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How Long Does it Take to Learn Hebrew?

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How long does it take to learn Hebrew? This is an altogether common question for people interested in picking up this ancient, vibrant, and wholly unique language. 

No two students are alike, so the answer to this question will vary based on who you are and how you go about studying. For example, if you already know how to read the Hebrew alphabet, you’ll surely progress much faster than someone starting from scratch. Or if you’re able to do immersion learning in Israel, you’ll likely progress more quickly than someone learning in a place where they can’t engage with Hebrew day and night.

Of course, motivation is one of the most central factors in determining how fast you progress with a language. For instance, if you’re learning Hebrew in order to land a new business contract—or better yet, to impress a girl or guy you met at a party—you’ll likely find yourself progressing at a faster clip than someone who, say, has to learn Hebrew because their parents think it’s important for them to be able to read prayers or the Torah.

In any case, today we’ll be looking at:

  • Factors that can influence your learning speed
  • The essential skills you’ll need to reach the beginner, intermediate, and advanced Hebrew proficiency levels
  • Some helpful tips on how to learn Hebrew fast

We’ll also talk about how long you can expect it to take you to reach each of these levels, though the numbers can vary quite a bit from one language learner to the next. Without further ado, let’s have a look at how long it takes to learn Hebrew.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Factors That Can Influence Your Learning Speed
  2. Beginner Level
  3. Intermediate Level
  4. Advanced Level
  5. Top 10 Tips to Help You Learn Hebrew Faster
  6. Let HebrewPod101 Get You on the Fast Track to Hebrew Learning

Factors That Can Influence Your Learning Speed

Car Going Over Speed Bump

Before we look at each level and what it entails, let’s look at some more general factors that are likely to influence your learning speed.

Motivation

As mentioned previously, your motivation level is going to be reflected in the speed at which you progress with your Hebrew studies. Generally speaking, an intrinsically motivated student, meaning someone who is learning Hebrew out of his or her own personal choice, is going to find it much easier to advance. This is because there’s a lot of satisfaction to be found in achieving something you set your mind to. Plus, you’re typically going to be able to use Hebrew for a specific goal, which can be very gratifying, indeed.

Chances are, if you’re reading this lesson, you already have some reason for wanting to improve your Hebrew. But even if that isn’t the case, try to set your eyes on smaller goals that you can keep at the front of your mind as you study. This will help keep you motivated as you progress through your stated goals and feel that sense of accomplishment. For example, you may want to be able to sing along with a Hebrew song you like or to read Hebrew without nikkud. Keep your goals realistic for your current level, rather than overshooting it!

Your language(s) going in

Language Books

One thing that’s going to make a huge difference in terms of how fast you progress with Hebrew is the language(s) you speak going in. Because Hebrew is a member of the Semitic language family, you’ll be more comfortable with the way Hebrew works if you speak any Arabic or Farsi, for example. This is because these languages share common traits (such as being read and written right to left) and comparable grammar logic. 

English speakers are unlikely to find any foothold here, as they would with Germanic or Romance languages. Hebrew is altogether distinct from these language families and really bears no resemblance to English (other than all the loanwords it has from English, Latin, and other international languages). You may well recognize individual words, but don’t expect this to get you too far. At the end of the day, you just have to accept that the Hebrew language has its own separate character, rules, and approach to expressing the world.

Your linguistic abilities and experience in general

Another key factor is any prior experience you have with languages. For example, if you grew up bilingual or polyglot, you’ll likely have a leg up on someone who is monolingual—even if none of the languages you know are Semitic! This is partly due to something known as “tolerance for ambiguity,” a term that refers to a language learner’s willingness to accept and assimilate language features that differ from what s/he knows from her/his native tongue(s).

Moreover, if you’ve ever studied a language before, whether Hebrew or any other language foreign to you, your prior experience is likely to have some bearing on how you approach your Hebrew learning. For example, if you had good language teachers in school who inculcated healthy learning habits and gave you an overall positive language learning experience, you’re likely to have an easier time taking up a new language. On the other hand, if you had lousy teachers, you may be somewhat traumatized from these experiences and need to develop new habits and a new attitude toward language learning.

How and where you’re studying

Woman Studying from Books

As we said in the introduction, immersion studying is always going to be ideal, but it may not be a possibility for everyone who wants to learn Hebrew. If you can find a way to spend time in Israel, you’ll be able to benefit from constant exposure to the Hebrew language through interactions with other people, listening to the news, watching TV, etc., all in Hebrew. However, if you can’t physically go to Israel, try your best to boost your exposure to Hebrew by taking advantage of the wealth of media available online. For example, you can check out Hebrew-language Netflix series, Hebrew songs on YouTube, and even Hebrew-language forums.

Apart from location, it will be beneficial to have some sort of structure to your learning. This will help to ensure that you progress in a linear fashion, building your knowledge successively and acquiring all the skills you need in one level before running ahead to a more advanced one. It will also prevent you from feeling like you’re drowning in an overwhelming sea of information, without knowing how to progress.

It’s always a good idea to vary your learning, as well. We recommend using a mix of serious and fun learning materials (for example, grammar lessons vs. lessons on slang), as well as giving all four language skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) equal attention. Of course, there are some situations where you may need to hone only one or two skills. For example, in an academic setting, you may only need to be able to read Hebrew (and not produce it). Or maybe you simply want to learn conversational Hebrew and have little interest in learning to read it. In such cases, you may want to focus only on the necessities.

Beginner Level

The beginner level is just what it sounds like. This level describes someone who is in the initial phases of acquiring the Hebrew language. 

The US Foreign Service Institute (FSI) groups world languages into four different categories, with Category I languages being the most similar to English and Category IV languages being the least similar. They have ranked Hebrew as a Category III language, meaning it has significant linguistic and/or cultural differences from English. Languages in this category are estimated to require 44 weeks (or 1100 hours) in order to reach “General Professional Proficiency” in speaking and reading. This would be equivalent to Intermediate Level on HebrewPod101.com.

Extrapolating based on this projection, the average time it takes to reach the beginner level might be something like 22 weeks (or 550 hours), if we assume that the beginner level is halfway to the intermediate level. 

At the beginner level, the assumption is that you’re building up a lot of passive knowledge, but obviously with the goal of being able to apply it and produce language (i.e. speak or write) more and more as you progress.

Wondering how to learn Hebrew from scratch? Here’s a list of skills and abilities you’ll want to master as a beginner:

The alphabet – אלפבית (alefbeyt)

Hebrew Book

As Hebrew does not use the Latin alphabet, you’ll need to learn to read the 22 characters of the Hebrew alphabet. To make things more complicated, Hebrew is an abjad, meaning that vowels are not letters but diacritical marks placed above, below, or within the letters, which are all consonants or vowel-bearing placeholders. To make it just a bit more complicated, these diacritical marks, called ניקוד (nikkud), are almost universally omitted from written and printed Hebrew and therefore need to be deduced from context. However, many learning materials include them for the benefit of the student reader. One last complication is that Hebrew uses one script for print and another for handwriting, so you’ll probably want to learn both of these.

Basic verbs

Verbs are action words, so you won’t see much action without them! The good news about Hebrew verbs is that there are only three main tenses—simple past, simple present, and simple future—and there’s no verb “to be” in present tense. The bad news is that there are a whopping seven conjugation patterns to learn.

Male and female forms

One of the aspects of Hebrew that tends to be particularly tricky for speakers of non-gendered languages, such as English, is the fact that Hebrew uses male and female forms for nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and verb conjugations.

Talking about yourself

Two women talking

At the beginner level, you’ll learn how to introduce yourself and how to say basic things about yourself, such as where you’re from and what you do.

Saying hello and goodbye

You won’t get very far without these essential skills.

Countries, nationalities, and languages of the world

The beginner level is a great place to learn these, starting with your own country of origin, nationality, and language(s). Once you have those down, you can progress to other countries, nationalities, and languages so that you can also talk about other people in this regard.

Likes and dislikes

Woman Making Face of Displeasure

As a beginner, you should learn to express basic likes and dislikes, as well as things like your hobbies and pastimes.

Food and drink

In Israel, we love food! So, no basic Hebrew-language education would be complete without learning how to discuss food. This includes verbs, nouns, and adjectives for eating, drinking, ordering at a restaurant, etc.

Work and school

You’ll also want to know how to talk about work and school, including the vocabulary for different professions and careers.

Numbers and time

Numbers on Check

Finally, numbers and the related topic of telling time are also essential for the beginner level. Note that Hebrew also has male and female forms for numbers, so you’ll want to master this, as well.

Intermediate Level

As you progress, you’ll move on to the intermediate level, which is where many students feel comfortable staying. At this level, which, as mentioned, might take around 44 weeks (1100 hours), you’ll already be getting much more comfortable holding a basic conversation and generally defending yourself in Hebrew.

Here’s a list of skills and abilities you’ll want to acquire at the intermediate level of Hebrew:

Dealing with travel situations

Because this is an essential skill set that draws on various abilities, you should get to a certain level of comfort when handling travel situations. This includes things like taking a taxi and buying bus tickets, as well as asking for and even giving directions.

Writing simple texts

Icon of Envelope

At this level, you should be able to produce simple texts, such as short text messages and emails or brief descriptions.

Describing things with some detail

Man Talking

At this point, you should also be acquiring sufficient vocabulary. This includes not only nouns and verbs, but also adjectives and adverbs which will permit you to describe experiences, plans, and opinions with some level of detail and precision.

Reading and understanding more complex texts

Books

You should be able to read and comprehend more complex texts such as news items or technical articles in fields you’re familiar with, such as those related to your profession. Much of this, of course, will have to do with vocabulary acquisition.

Have lengthier, more complex conversations

Again, as you progress in your ability to understand speech spoken at native speeds, and as you build up your own ability to speak with fluency, you should be able to engage in more interesting and drawn-out conversations.

Advanced Level

First of all, it should be noted that there really isn’t a limit to the advanced level. While there is a distinction in terms of skills and abilities when compared to the intermediate and beginner levels, you can take the advanced level just about as far as you wish—even to the point of achieving what’s known as near fluency. 

So, how long does it take to learn Hebrew fluently? A conservative estimate might be something like 2 years, though a really motivated and talented student might get there as soon as, say, 18 months.

Here’s a list of skills and abilities that pertain to the advanced level of Hebrew-language study:

Understanding longer and more demanding texts or conversations

As you grow your vocabulary and improve your grasp of things like grammar and syntax, you should be able to fend for yourself even when reading complex texts such as full-length books, opinion pieces, and even poems and song lyrics. You should also be able to engage in lengthy and complex conversations, such as discussing your opinions on politics or talking about technical matters.

Expressing ideas comfortably and in a fluid manner

Woman with Lots of Thought Bubbles

By now, you should feel comfortable expressing most of your thoughts and ideas with fluency, which in the literal sense means that your speech flows, without much stuttering, hesitation, or searching for words.

Effectively using language in social, academic, and professional situations

Your broad vocabulary, improved grammar, and stronger rhetorical abilities should enable you to feel comfortable using language in functional settings, such as at work or school, or in making and getting to know friends…or even that special someone.

Writing well-structured, detailed texts on complex topics

Woman Working on a Written Project

Assuming you’re focusing on writing and not just speaking, you should now be able to write more complex texts, such as essays and full-length letters or emails. You should have a solid grasp of different registers (e.g. formal vs. informal) and when to employ them.

Top 10 Tips to Help You Learn Hebrew Faster

Regardless of your current level or your language learning goals, there are several things you can do to make the most of your study time. Here are our top ten tips for how to learn Hebrew faster!

1. Read both with and without vowels to practice word recognition.

This is obviously going to be more important at the beginner level (and perhaps the intermediate level, to some extent), as the expectation is that by the time you reach the intermediate level, you’ll have become comfortable reading without vowels. That’s why it’s important to start practicing this ability as early as possible.

2. Keep track of vocabulary.

Record new words as you go, using a notebook or even your phone. Also, quiz yourself regularly to make sure you’re retaining this vocabulary.

3. Make sure to talk to native speakers, and ask them to correct you.

Two men in conversation

This is obviously much easier to do if you’re physically in Israel, but even if you’re not, you should do whatever it takes to find some native speakers in your town or online. This way, you can practice speaking Hebrew with someone who can offer you helpful feedback on your use of the language.

4. Watch and listen to plenty of media in Hebrew.

One of the best and most enjoyable ways to improve your Hebrew is to take advantage of the wealth of media available, particularly online, in the Hebrew language. Watch Hebrew TV shows and movies, and listen to Hebrew music as much as you can, especially with subtitles in Hebrew (see below).

5. Study with a partner.

Dancers

This may not be for everyone, but many people find that a study partner can be a great way to get mutual encouragement. It can also help with any anxiety when it comes to speaking. Obviously, it’s always best to try to find someone who is more or less at the same level of proficiency as you are.

6. Be willing to make mistakes.

Numerous studies have shown that the most successful language learners are those who go easy on themselves. Making mistakes is part and parcel of learning languages, so don’t just allow for this—expect it. Learn to laugh at yourself when you make a silly mistake, rather than getting caught up on it.

7. Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions.

Question Marks and Light Bulb

According to a Hebrew proverb, a bashful person makes for a poor student, and a strict person makes for a bad teacher. Part of any successful learning endeavor is a sense of comfort about asking questions whenever you’re in doubt. So when in doubt, ask someone for help!

8. Practice pronunciation in front of the mirror.

Woman in front of mirror

This will probably feel funny at first, but by actually watching what your mouth is doing when you speak, you have a better chance of honing in on the mechanics of producing the right sounds to approximate native-sounding Hebrew. In the same vein, pay attention to what you see Israelis’ mouths doing when they make any sounds you’re having difficulty with, and do your best to mimic them when you practice.

9. Do karaoke in Hebrew.

This one’s a no-brainer. Not only is it fun to let loose in front of the karaoke screen, but actually singing a song to beat is a great way of drumming language into your head—literally.

10. Use subtitles to help connect words to sound.

Popcorn and Remote

Subtitles are your friend. They’re a fantastic tool for working on anything, from expanding your vocabulary to recognizing words without vowels to picking up on grammar and syntax structures. 

As a beginner, you’ll likely need subtitles in your native language, but as you progress, you can use subtitles in a more challenging way. An intermediate student, for example, can pick up a lot of new words by watching TV or movies in his/her native tongue, with Hebrew subtitles to accompany it. As you advance, however, challenge yourself to watch Hebrew-language TV shows and movies with Hebrew subtitles. This can go a long way toward helping you connect the physical appearance of words with the sounds they make.

Let HebrewPod101 Get You on the Fast Track to Hebrew Learning

As you can see, there are many components to tackle in mastering the Hebrew language. We at HebrewPod101 are proud to offer you a broad array of learning materials to ensure that you learn comfortably and at as fast a pace as you desire.

Whether you prefer audio lessons or written ones like this one, our library of materials is diverse and designed with the optimal student experience in mind. In addition to our learning materials, we also offer numerous lessons addressing tips and techniques to make your learning more efficient and more enjoyable. 

Is there anything else you’d like to know about the process of learning Hebrew? Feel free to get in touch and let us know.

Until next lesson, shalom!

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Hebrew Proverbs: Right from the Source

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The word “proverb” is generally used to refer to a traditional saying that boils down a commonsense observation about life into a pithy adage, often through the use of a metaphor or some other rhetorical device. All languages, it would seem, express the wisdom of the ages using concise sayings that are easy to remember and recall to use for strategic effect. Indeed, the name of the game is knowing the right proverb for the right moment.

In the case of Hebrew proverbs, there’s an extensive arsenal to draw on. In fact, one of the oldest examples of a proverb folklore is the Book of Proverbs, which represents one of the Hebrew language’s greatest contributions to world literature. This book, of course, is part of a longstanding tradition of Hebrew proverbs, from Biblical times through the Rabbinic period, the Middle Ages, the Enlightenment, and right into modern times. As the People of the Book, Jews have long considered a well-turned phrase burnished at just the right moment to be a mark of erudition and eloquence.

Man Reading Bible

Of course, the vast majority of these old Hebrew proverbs are religious in nature and emanate from religious sources, namely the Hebrew Bible and the vast library of exegetical works (works that interpret the Bible). Because modern Israel is a largely secular country, some portion of these proverbs have certainly been relegated to the demographically more limited sphere of Israel’s religious communities. However, there’s still a large number of Hebrew proverbs used by the general public.

In any event, nothing will add stripes to your rank as a speaker of the language like a few pithy proverbs in Hebrew to employ at a choice moment in your conversation with a native speaker. To that end, our lesson today will cover the top thirty Hebrew proverbs along with context examples to help you know when best to use them.

Friends Having a Conversation
Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. The Top 30 Hebrew Proverbs
  2. HebrewPod101 is Your Proverbial Go-To for All Things Hebrew

1. The Top 30 Hebrew Proverbs

אכול ושתו כי מחר נמות .1

TransliterationAkhol ve-shato ki makhar namut.
Literal translation“Eat and drink for tomorrow we shall die.”
SourceIsaiah 22:13
Parallel English proverbLife is short.
Usage in contextYour friend is trying to convince you to go skydiving with him, but you’re on the fence due to safety concerns. To try to win you over, he uses this phrase.

2. אם אין אני לי מי לי? וכשאני לעצמי, מה אני? ואם לא עכשיו, אימתי?

TransliterationIm eyn ani li mi li? U-kh’she-ani le-’atzmi, mah ani? Ve-im lo ‘akhshav, eymatay?
Literal translation“If I am not for myself, who will be? And when I am for myself, what am I? And if not now, then when?”
SourcePirkei Avot 1:14
Parallel English proverbThere’s no time like the present. [last part]
Usage in contextThis proverb is often quoted in part, depending on the application. For example:

It’s Friday, and you’re considering going to visit the Dead Sea for the first time, but you know you have a work assignment to hand in on Monday. To give you a bit of a push, your friend (who wants you to go with him) says, ואם לא עכשיו אימתי? (Ve-im lo ‘akhshav eymatay?)

Man Looking at Watch

3. מצא מין את מינו.

TransliterationMatza min et mino.
Literal translation“He found his own type.”
SourcePopular
Parallel English proverbLike two peas in a pod.
Usage in contextYour brother, who is a classical pianist, tells you about a date he went on with a classical violinist, to which you reply with this proverb.

4. ואהבת לרעך כמוך.

TransliterationVe-ahavta le-re’akha kamokha.
Literal translation“Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Source Leviticus 19:18
Parallel English proverbSame as in Hebrew
Usage in contextA taxi driver wants to nudge in ahead of you at a merge onto the road. He rolls down his window, signaling for you to let him in, and quotes this proverb.

5. כל אהבה שהיא תלויה בדבר בטל דבר בטלה אהבה. ושאינה תלויה בדבר אינה בטלה לעולם.

TransliterationKol ahavah she-hi tluyah be-davar batel davar batlah ahavah. Ve-she-eynah tluyah be-davar eynah betelah le’olam.
Literal translation“Any love that depends upon a thing is annulled if that thing is annulled. Love that does not depend upon a thing will never be annulled.”
SourcePirkei Avot 5:19
Parallel English proverbTrue love lasts forever.
Usage in contextYou tell your Israeli girlfriend you need to go on a business trip abroad for a couple of months, and ask if she’ll wait for you to return. She replies with this proverb.

Hands Forming Heart Shape

6. כל הפוסל במומו פוסל.

TransliterationKol ha-posel be-mumo posel.
Literal translation“He who invalidates another invalidates himself.”
SourceTalmud Bavli: Kidushin 70:2
Parallel English proverbWhat you spot is what you’ve got.
Usage in contextYou criticize your neighbor for leaving trash outside his front door, and he points to your mailbox full of old mail, quoting this proverb.

Woman Looking in Rearview Mirror

7. עבר יומו בטל קרבנו.

Transliteration‘Avar yomo batel korbano.
Literal translation“Its day passed, its sacrifice was annulled.”
SourceTosefet Masekhet Berakhot 4
Parallel English proverbYou missed the boat.
Usage in contextYou forget your friend’s birthday, but offer to take him out to eat a month later. She replies with this proverb.

8. לכל זמן, ועת לכל חפץ תחת השמים.

TransliterationLa-kol zman, ve-’et le-khol khefetz takhat ha-shamayim.
Literal translation“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven.”
SourceEcclesiastes 3:1
Parallel English proverbEverything in its own time.
Usage in contextYou ask your father when he’s going to retire already, and he replies with this proverb.

9. תפשת מרובה לא תפשת.

TransliterationTafasta merubeh lo tafasta.
Literal translation“If you grab too much, you grab nothing.”
SourceTalmud Bavli: Sukkah 5:1
Parallel English proverbDon’t bite off more than you can chew.
Usage in contextYou tell your parents you’re going to double major in biochemistry and plasma physics, and your mother replies with this proverb.

10. חזית איש מהיר במלאכתו, לפני מלכים יתיצב.

TransliterationKhazita ish mahir bi-m’lakhto lifney melakhim yityatzev.
Literal translation“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings.”
SourceProverbs 22:29
Parallel English proverbPractice makes perfect.
Usage in contextYou observe a master falafel hawker flipping the balls high into the air so they land right in the pita, and you say this proverb to your friend in admiration.

11. לעולם יאכל אדם פחות מן הראוי לו לפי ממונו וילבש כראוי לו ויכבד אשתו ובניו יותר מן הראוי לו.

TransliterationLe-’olam yokhal adam pakhot min ha-ra’uy lo lefi mamono ve-yilbash ka-ra’uy lo vi-yekhabed ishto u-vanav yoter min ha-ra’uy lo.
Literal translation“A man should always eat less than is befitting him, dress as is befitting him, and provide for his wife and children more than is befitting him.”
SourceHilkhot De’ah 5:10
Parallel English proverbNone.
Usage in contextThis might be good advice to a friend trying to budget their expenses, as it relates to monetary priorities vis-à-vis one’s earnings.

12. על ראש הגנב בוער הכובע.

Transliteration‘Al rosh ha-ganav bo’er ha-kova’.
Literal translation“The hat burns atop the thief’s head.”
SourcePopular
Parallel English proverbLiar, liar, pants on fire.
Usage in contextYou see that the prime minister is nervous and fidgety in an interview about the criminal embezzlement leveled against him, and you say this proverb in response.

Burglar

13. אין דבר העומד בפני הרצון.

TransliterationEyn davar ha-’omed bifney ha-ratzon.
Literal translation“Nothing can stand before will.”
SourceThe Book of Zohar
Parallel English proverbWhere there’s a will, there’s a way.
Usage in contextYour sister asks you how you’re able to learn so much Hebrew on HebrewPod101.com, and you reply with this proverb.

14. קנה חכמה מה טוב מחרוץ וקנות בינה נבחר מכסף.

TransliterationKno khokhmah mah tov me-kharutz u-knot binah nivkhar mi-kasef.
Literal translation“How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver.”
SourceProverbs 16:16
Parallel English proverbThe greatest wealth is wisdom.
Usage in contextYour grandfather asks you why you’re studying philosophy at university instead of business management, and you reply with this proverb.

15. איזה הוא חכם? הלומד מכל אדם.

TransliterationEyzeh hu khakham? Ha-lomed mi-kol adam.
Literal translation“Who is the wise man? He who learns from all men.”
SourcePirkei Avot 4:1
Parallel English proverbYou can learn something from everyone.
Usage in contextYou complain to your friends about your new roommate, who is very different from you, and they reply with this proverb.

16. כי ברב חכמה רב כעס, ויוסיף דעת יוסיף מכאוב.

TransliterationKi be-rov khokhmah rov ka’as, ve-yosif da’at yosif makh’ov.
Literal translation“For in much wisdom is much grief, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.”
SourceEcclesiastes 1:18
Parallel English proverbIgnorance is bliss.
Usage in contextYour boyfriend starts reading the nutritional values label on your favorite ice cream, and you tell him to stop, citing this proverb.

17. צרת רבים חצי נחמה.

TransliterationTzarat rabim khatzi nekhamah.
Literal translation“Suffering when shared is half a comfort.”
SourcePopular (based on Midrash Rabah)
Parallel English proverbMisery loves company.
Usage in contextA group of your employees all gather around to complain about the new strict boss, and you offer this proverb as a slight consolation.

18. איזהו גיבור? הכובש את יצרו.

TransliterationEyzehu gibor? Ha-kovesh et yitzro.
Literal translation“Who is the hero? He who conquers his urges.”
SourcePirkei Avot 4:1
Parallel English proverbDiscipline is wisdom and vice-versa.
Usage in contextYou are about to go for seconds at your favorite pizzeria, and your brother mentions this proverb while reminding you of your newly adopted diet.

Saluting Silhouette

19. אילני סרק קולם הולך.

TransliterationIylaney srak kolam holekh.
Literal translation“Barren trees make much noise.”
SourceGenesis Rabba 16:3
Parallel English proverbAn empty barrel makes the most noise.
Usage in contextYou call out one of your colleagues (a notorious know-it-all who always has something nasty to say about everyone), using this proverb to put her in her place.

20. אין חכם כבעל ניסיון.

TransliterationEyn khakham ke-va’al nisayon.
Literal translation“There is none wiser than the experienced.”
SourcePopular
Parallel English proverbExperience makes the best teacher.
Usage in contextWhen you ask your teacher why she’s given you so much homework, she replies with this proverb.

21. לא הבישן למד ולא הקפדן מלמד.

TransliterationLo ha-bayshan lamed ve-lo ha-kapdan melamed.
Literal translation“Neither does the timid learn nor the strict teach.”
SourcePirkei Avot 2:5
Parallel English proverbNone
Usage in contextThis is something a student might say in criticism of a teacher who does not invite questions, or that a teacher might say of a student who’s too afraid to ask them.

22. דברי חכמים בנחת נשמעים. 

TransliterationDivrey khakhamim be-nakhat nishma’im.
Literal translation“Wise words should be spoken pleasantly.”
SourceEcclesiastes 9:17
Parallel English proverbYou can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
Usage in contextYou ask your friend how best to talk to your neighbors about their loud parties, and he cites this proverb.

23. סייג לחכמה שתיקה.

TransliterationSyag le-khokhmah shtikah.
Literal translation“Silence is a fence around wisdom.”
SourcePirkei Avot 3:13
Parallel English proverbBetter to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.
Usage in contextJust before you raise your hand at your first work meeting, your colleague whispers this proverb in your ear.

Man Zipping Lips

24. והוי זנב לאריות, ואל תהי ראש לשועלים.

TransliterationVe-hevi zanav la-arayot, ve-al tehi rosh la-shu’alim.
Literal translation“It is better to be the tail of the lion than the head of the fox.”
SourcePirkei Avot 4:15
Parallel English proverbBetter the head of a dog than the tail of a lion. (It’s humorous to note that the parallels are opposite!)
Usage in contextYou’re offered a position with a lower salary than your current job, but at a leading firm with lots of opportunity. Your friend offers you this proverb as advice.

25. בור ששתית ממנו אל תזרוק בו אבן.

TransliterationBor she-shatita mimenu al tizrok bo even.
Literal translation“Don’t throw stones into a well you’ve drunk from.”
SourceNumbers Rabba 22
Parallel English proverbDon’t bite the hand that feeds you.
Usage in contextYour father tells you not to criticize your mother’s coddling, mentioning this proverb.

26. אמור מעט ועשה הרבה.

TransliterationEmor me’at va-’aseh harbeh.
Literal translation“Speak little and do much.”
SourcePirkei Avot 1:14
Parallel English proverbActions speak louder than words.
Usage in contextAfter hearing about your plans to finally learn Hebrew, your brother offers you this proverb by way of advice.

Woman Rock Climbing

27. אל יתהלל חגר כמפתח.

TransliterationAl yithalel khoger ki-mefate’akh.
Literal translation“Let not him that girdeth on his armor boast himself as he that putteth it off.”
Source1 Kings 20:11
Parallel English proverbDon’t count your chickens before they hatch.
Usage in contextYou announce to your boyfriend that you’re sure you’ll get the scholarship you applied for, and he replies cautiously with this proverb.

28. חושך שבטו שונא בנו.

TransliterationKhosekh shivto sone beno.
Literal translation“He that spareth his rod hateth his son.”
SourceProverbs 13:24
Parallel English proverbSpare the rod and spoil the child.
Usage in contextYour friend admonishes you with this proverb for letting your grounded son go out to play with his friends after feeling bad for him.

29. שלח לחמך על פני המים כי ברב הימים תמצאנו.

TransliterationShlakh lakhmekha ‘al pney ha-mayim ki be-rov ha-yamim timtza’enu.
Literal translation“Cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days.”
SourceEcclesiastes 11:1
Parallel English proverbWhat goes around comes around.
Usage in contextYour grandmother encourages you to give to charity, mentioning this proverb.

30. טובים השנים מן האחד.

TransliterationTovim ha-shnayim min ha-ekhad.
Literal translation“Two are better than one.”
SourceEcclesiastes 4:9
Parallel English proverbTwo heads are better than one.
Usage in contextWhen you finally meet ‘the one’ and bring him home to meet the family, your father happily quotes this proverb.

Cutout of Two People

2. HebrewPod101 is Your Proverbial Go-To for All Things Hebrew

We hope you enjoyed today’s lesson on Hebrew proverbs, and that you found our selection of proverbs useful, interesting, and enlightening. Obviously, it would be a lot to expect anyone to memorize all thirty of these; we recommend working on just a couple at a time. You’ll be sure to get some pleasantly surprised reactions when you whip out a perfectly timed Hebrew proverb with your Israeli friends!

Was there anything related to Hebrew proverbs that we didn’t cover today, or anything we did cover that you’d like to know more about? We at HebrewPod101 are always happy to hear from you, so please feel free to get in touch with us. Until next time, Shalom!

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Jerusalem Travel Guide: The Top 10 Places in the Holy City

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Language, culture, and place are inseparably linked. Indeed, they have a dynamic relationship, with language shaping culture, and culture carving place into stone. In the case of a language as old as Hebrew, a nation as ancient as the Jewish people, and a city as old as Jerusalem, understanding the interplay between language, culture, and place is absolutely key to cracking Hebrew’s code.

In this Jerusalem travel guide, you’ll learn about the top attractions in Jerusalem for visitors as well as the culture and history of this magnificent city. It has been the center of Jewish culture for several millennia, and discovering everything it has to offer will give you a much deeper insight into how much the Hebrew language mirrors the story of the Jewish people.

Each has faced many perils as well as many triumphs, and each is woven from a dizzyingly diverse loom of threads that make up the tapestry of this city and its people. But perhaps most of all, Jerusalem is an incredible living analogy of the Jews’ ability to come out of each struggle, over more than two millennia, with a stronger and richer identity. Some of this story is set in stone (like at the Western Wall), and some of it is ever-changing (like the Jerusalem skyline of today).

Jerusalem Skyline

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Before You Go – לפני הנסיעה (Lifney ha-Nesi’ah)
  2. Must-See Places for Shorter Trips (1-3 Days)
  3. Highly Recommended Places for a Longer Trip (4-7 Days or Longer)
  4. Bonus: Survival Hebrew for Your Trip
  5. Make the Most of Your Trip and Prepare in Advance with HebrewPod101

Before You Go – לפני הנסיעה (Lifney ha-Nesi’ah

To get the most out of your trip to Jerusalem, it’s best to prepare yourself with a little background information about the city’s long history as well as some basic travel info. 

Obviously, you can enjoy Jerusalem even if you show up clueless. But considering the thousands of years of stories that the very stones seem to breathe, acquainting yourself even briefly with the city’s history will definitely make for a more meaningful visit. 

We’ll also look at the layout of Jerusalem’s Old City, discuss when the tourist season is, and cover a basic packing list to help you show up prepared for any eventuality.


Jerusalem at Dusk

A Short History of the Holy City

ירושלים (Yerushalayim), or Jerusalem, is located in the Judean Mountains, or הרי יהודה (Harey Yehudah), between the Mediterranean Sea (Ha-Yam ha-Tikhon) and the Dead Sea, or ים המלח (Yam ha-Melakh). 

Though there is evidence that Jerusalem may have been first inhabited by humans as early as the Early Bronze Age, some 5,500 years ago, the city is believed to have risen to prominence sometime between the eleventh and tenth centuries BCE. During this time, it was the capital of the Israelite United Monarchy as established under King David and consolidated under his son, King Solomon.

King Solomon is credited with building the Holy Temple, called בית המקדש (Beyt ha-Mikdash) in Hebrew. To this day, it remains the locus of Jewish prayer and the holiest place on Earth for Jews. Remnants of the Temple, most notably the Western Wall, or הכותל המערבי (Ha-Kotel ha-Ma’aravi), still draw in pilgrims from all over the world. It’s customary to place pieces of paper with prayers written on them between the cracks of the stones of this ancient wall.

The Babylonians occupied Jerusalem in 586 BCE, destroyed the Holy Temple, and exiled much of the Jewish population. Half a century later, King Cyrus the Great of Persia defeated the Babylonians and invited back the exiled Jews and allowed them to rebuild their Holy Temple in Jerusalem. This rebuilt Temple stood as the Jewish center of political and religious power until the Roman Exile in the year 70 CE, when the Temple was once again destroyed—this time without being rebuilt. In-between its two destructions, it’s worth mentioning that the Temple was sacked, looted, and defiled (though not destroyed) by the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire under Antiochus IV Epiphanes when he invaded and occupied Israel and Jerusalem in 168 BCE. The Temple was eventually won back and rededicated by the Maccabees.

Menorah

Following the Roman Exile, Jerusalem pertained to the Roman, Byzantine, and Sassanid Empires, then a myriad of Muslim Caliphates interspersed with brief periods of Christian Crusader rule, and followed by long periods under Mamluk (and later, Ottoman) rule. The latter ended in World War I, when the British defeated the Turks in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, the result of which saw British rule over the region—including Jerusalem—under the British Mandate. Jerusalem was finally returned to Jewish hands in 1948, with the British exit from then-Palestine following the U.N. vote to partition the region to an Arab and Jewish state.

Afterwards, Jerusalem was to be divided in the course of the imminent War of Independence, with east Jerusalem (including the Western Wall) falling outside Israeli control. Jerusalem was declared reunified by Israel in 1967 during the Six Day War and made its capital, with Israeli government organs moving there from the city of Tel Aviv.

Today, Jerusalem bears traces, architectural and otherwise, of all the different stages of its long history of conquests. Indeed, one can literally trace the timeline of history by visiting different places in the city that pertained to different empires over the course of time. 

And on top of all this history, of course, Jerusalem is home to a kaleidoscope culture forged by the fusion between old and new stories, local traditions, and the rainbow of influences from the ongoing influx of immigrants and tourists. It’s a unique case of the ancient and the modern in symbiosis.

The Weather in Jerusalem

Clouds

Jerusalem sees little to no precipitation between May and October. April, May, and October are the most pleasant of these months, with average temperatures between 20º Celsius (68° Fahrenheit) and 25º Celsius (77° Fahrenheit). July and August are the warmest months, with average temperatures of 28° Celsius (82° Fahrenheit), although it obviously can and does get hotter. June and September are also still quite warm, but the good news is that throughout this period without precipitation, Jerusalem, with an elevation of 785 meters (2,575 feet) above sea level, remains fairly dry. Obviously, the elevation also contributes to cooler evening temperatures than one might find along Israel’s coastal plain, for example.

The rainy season sets in toward the end of October and typically lasts into April. January is usually the coldest and wettest month, with an average high temperature of 11° Celsius (51° Fahrenheit). It can and does also snow in Jerusalem, thanks to the elevation, though most of the city’s precipitation comes in the form of cold rain.

When to Visit Jerusalem

Taking the climate into account, the best time to visit Jerusalem weather-wise is from April to May and from October to November, when the weather is usually mild and pleasant. However, major Jewish holidays may fall during these time frames—namely the High Holy Days, Sukkot, and Passover—and the city will inevitably be packed, regardless of the weather.

Old City vs. New City Jerusalem

Alleyways

A general fact about Jerusalem you should be aware of is that it’s divided into the Old City, or העיר העתיקה (Ha-’Ir ha-’Atikah), which is delineated by the old city walls, and the rest of Jerusalem, which is quite sprawling. 

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Old City represented the extent of Jerusalem’s development until the first Jewish settlement outside the walls in the nineteenth century. Beyond, at the time, lay an expanse of wilderness, with the added deterrent of desert marauders plundering wayfarers. The Old City contains the lion’s share of historic sites tourists tend to visit, including the city’s walls and gates themselves. That said, there’s also plenty of history to be found outside the Old City limits.

Though today it’s a large and spread-out city, the New City was slow in coming at the start. Between 1859 and 1860, in light of overcrowding and generally poor conditions within the city walls, Jewish benefactors Moses Montefiori and Judah Touro built the first Jewish settlement outside of them. Mishkenot Sha’ananim (משכנות שאננים, literally: “Peaceful Habitations”) was a hard sell at first, despite the improved housing it offered. It was in territory subject to Bedoin attacks, lying as it did outside the protection of Jerusalem’s walls. However, Jews were ultimately incentivized to move there, and a protective wall and gate were constructed around the neighborhood for added protection. 

Two additional Jewish neighborhoods were built outside the city walls in 1869: Mahane Israel (מחנה ישראל, literally: “The Camp of Israel”) and Nahalat Shiv’a (נחלת שבעה, literally: “The Seven’s Estate,” in reference to the seven families who founded it). This marked a trend that slowly picked up momentum, and which has continued to boom ever since.

Language in Jerusalem

People with Speech Bubbles

Even if your Hebrew is basic or non-existent, you’ll be able to get by just fine in Jerusalem. Public officials, such as police, and most people under age fifty should speak some English—at least enough to direct a tourist. However, Hebrew will no doubt get you much further, so it’s wise to brush up before your visit. You’ll also find plenty of Arabic speakers, especially in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City and in East Jerusalem. Thanks to more recent waves of immigration, you may also find speakers of just about any other language you can think of, most notably Russian, Amharic, and French.

Essential Packing List

Suitcase

While everyone’s packing list will be somewhat unique, the following is a list of essential items you would be wise to bring with you on your trip to Jerusalem.

  1. Clothes suitable for the time of year you’re traveling, plus something warmer or cooler for evenings, sudden changes of temperature, outings to the beach or desert, etc.
  2. A rain jacket or umbrella, if you’re traveling during the rainy season
  3. Gloves, a scarf, and warm outerwear for cold weather (You’d be surprised how cold Jerusalem can feel, even if the thermometer isn’t reading as low as you would think!)
  4. Sunglasses—a must!
  5. A brimmed hat or other head covering
  6. Sunscreen
  7. Comfortable shoes or sandals for walking
  8. A water bottle
  9. Maps to navigate
  10. A journal to record your experiences
  11. A camera or your cellphone for snapping selfies
  12. Modest clothing if you plan on entering any holy sites or neighborhoods
  13. Your best negotiation skills for haggling at the market!

Must-See Places for Shorter Trips (1-3 Days)

Girl with Camera

Now that we’ve covered Jerusalem’s history and have our suitcases packed, let’s take a look at the top five places you should put on your Jerusalem travel list.

1. The Old City – העיר העתיקה (Ha-’Ir ha-’Atikah)

As mentioned earlier, the Old City is the geographic and historical heart of Jerusalem—this makes it one of those places you must visit in Jerusalem to make your trip complete. There are four quarters of the Old City: the Jewish Quarter, the Muslim Quarter, the Christian Quarter, and the Armenian Quarter. Each quarter has its own attractions, so let’s have a brief look at each one.

Jewish Quarter – הרובע היהודי (Ha-Rova’ ha-Yehudi)

The Jewish Quarter centers around the Western Wall Plaza, with steps and alleys winding out of the broad open space into a tight labyrinth of a neighborhood. The main attraction is obviously the Western Wall itself. 

Note that there’s a men’s side and a women’s side, and that men should wear a head covering and women modest clothing if approaching the wall. 

While the Western Wall is the last exposed remnant of the ancient Holy Temple, you can also explore tunnels with access to additional excavated remnants. Apart from the Western Wall, the Cardo is another great spot. Dating from Byzantine times, these are remnants of the original colonnaded structures that lined what was the city’s main thoroughfare in Roman times.

Muslim Quarter – הרובע המוסלמי (Ha-Rova’ ha-Muslemi)

The Muslim Quarter is more crowded and active than the sleepier Jewish Quarter, and its main attraction is the market section where you can buy all sorts of goods—both cheap and luxury, genuine and imitation. Just be sure to pack your bartering skills, as price tags are definitely only a suggestion (if they can be found at all). It’s also a great place to grab some authentic חומוס (khummus), or “hummus,” and Arabic pastries, or to smoke a נרגילה (nargilah), or “hookah.”

Christian Quarter – הרובע הנוצרי (Ha-Rova’ ha-Notzri)

The Christian Quarter is home to about forty sites holy to Christians, and is therefore a destination for priests and pilgrims from across the globe. At its heart lies the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus is believed to be buried according to some traditions. The Via Dolorosa passes through the Christian Quarter, as well as the Armenian Quarter.

Armenian Quarter – הרובע הארמני (Ha-Rova’ ha-Armeni)

The smallest quarter, the Armenian Quarter, is full of surprises. As Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion, the Armenion Church long held a place of importance in Christendom, though its influence has waned with the years. This quarter is a peaceful collection of ancient churches. Be sure to check out St. Mark’s Chapel, the St. James Cathedral, and the Armenian Compound and its Armenian museum.

2. Mahane Yehuda Market – שוק מחנה יהודה (Shuk Makhaneh Yehudah)

Simply put, this is one of the greatest open markets on Earth. Part open and part roofed, the market offers an endless array of colors, smells, sounds, and, of course, tastes. Peruse the stalls of vegetable and fruit vendors half-singing, half-shouting at each other across the alleyway as they compete over who has the best or cheapest produce. Or stop for some exquisite coffee or delicious food in one of the many hole-in-the-wall cafés and restaurants tucked between and behind the carts of wares.

The Shuk is a great place to buy anything from food to hardware to souvenirs. Just be sure to shop around and check out the prices before you commit. And definitely try some of the local specialties, such as:

  • זיתים (zeytim) – “olives,” of which you’ll see more varieties than you would have thought possible
  • חלווה (khalvah) – a pastry made from tahini paste
  • בורקס (burekas) – baked pastries made of a thin flaky dough and filled with cheese, spinach, etc.

3. City of David – עיר דוד (‘Ir David)

One of Jerusalem’s most active archaeological sites, this is a must for any lover of history. The oldest part of Jerusalem, it was settled during the Canaanite period. According to the Bible, King David captured the city and brought the Ark of the Covenant there some 3,000 years ago. 

There have been excavations since the 1850s, so there’s always something interesting to see, including new finds. The site’s highlights include the ancient waterways that fed the city in times of old, the first palace built in the city, and even an ancient necropolis. Be sure to wear clothes and footwear you don’t mind getting wet. 

You can explore the above-ground portion of this site for free, but it’s well worth paying for admission to the underground portion, and even hiring a licensed guide to give you a tour.

4. Mt. of Olives – הר הזיתים (Har haZeitim)

This site is famous among both Jews and Christians for religious reasons; even the non-religious love this site for its stunning vistas of Jerusalem’s landscape. From the top, you can see the Old City and Temple Mount, as well as the surrounding Hinom Valley, or גיא בן הינום (Gai ben Hinom), and Judean Desert, or מדבר יהודה (Midbar Yehudah). 

Landmarks along the Mt. of Olives include several churches (such as the Lutheran Church of the Ascension and the Russian Orthodox church of the same name), as well as the Seven Arches Hotel. In addition, the Jewish Cemetery on the Mt. of Olives is the oldest and most important cemetery for Jews. Religious Jews believe that their bodies will be resurrected when the Messiah comes to rebuild the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Therefore, it’s considered an honor to be buried close to where it’s believed this will take place.

5. Haram Al-Sharif – הר הבית (Har ha-Bayit), “Temple Mount”

Holy to Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike, this is the site where Abraham is said to have been ordered to offer his son up as a sacrifice to God. It’s also the spot where Solomon founded the Holy Temple, and the Prophet Muhammad is said to have ascended to Heaven from here. 

The plaza, which many Jews consider taboo to enter, hovers above the Old City and is centered around the Dome of the Rock. It’s perhaps Jerusalem’s most iconic landmark. The southern side of the mount is home to one of the oldest mosques in the world: the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Note that while the plaza is open to people of all religious denominations, non-Muslim visitors are prohibited from entering the Dome of the Rock or the Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as from praying anywhere on the site.

Highly Recommended Places for a Longer Trip (4-7 Days or Longer)

Dead Sea

If you have a bit more time to spend here, we would like to recommend a few additional things to visit in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. Let’s have a look.

6. Israel Museum – מוזיאון ישראל (Muze’on Yisra’el)

This museum covers nearly 50,000 square meters and has a six-acre sculpture garden. It features all manner of collections, from prehistoric archaeology to contemporary art. There’s also a phenomenal variety of Judaica and Jewish arts from different Jewish communities across the world, and from different time periods. The museum’s children’s wing is its most interactive section, and there are special events and activities available for kids during Jewish holidays and school vacations.

7. Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Jerusalem – גן החיות התנ”כי בירושלים על שם משפחת טיש (Gan ha-Khayot ha-Tanakhi be-Yerushalayim ‘al Shem Mishpakhat Tish)

Popularly known as the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, this zoo is located in Jerusalem’s Malha neighborhood. Its most notorious feature is its Afro-Asiatic wildlife collection, which showcases many animals that were described in the Hebrew Bible. It has also had much success breeding endangered species. 

The zoo, much of which is designed in an open format, features animals and birds kept in their natural habitats, ranging from an African savannah to a tropical rainforest, and even to an underground world of mice and cockroaches. Each animal or bird mentioned in the Bible has a display showing the relevant Biblical verse in Hebrew, Arabic, and English.

8. Yad Vashem – יד ושם, literally: “Hand and Name”

This museum is dedicated to the Holocaust, its victims, and its survivors; although visiting is definitely an intense experience, it commemorates an integral part of Israel’s story and the story of the Jewish people in general. 

Located on Mount Herzl, or הר הרצל (Har Hertzel), the memorial consists of a research institute in addition to other centers of education. You’ll also find the International School/Institute for Holocaust Studies as well as the widely visited Holocaust History Museum. The latter includes the Children’s Memorial, the Hall of Remembrance, and the Museum of Holocaust Art.

9. Dead Sea – ים המלח (Yam ha-Melkah), “Salt Sea”

If you have the time, this is one of the best places to visit near Jerusalem for a fun day trip. The lowest point on Earth, the main attraction of the Dead Sea is its salty waters, whose salt concentration is 34%, ten times more than seawater. Typically, visitors enjoy floating effortlessly in the water, which is impossible to really swim in due to the salinity. Additionally, the mud from the bed and shore of the Dead Sea is considered the world over to do dermatological wonders. For this reason, mud baths, rubs, and massages are quite popular here.

10. Ein Gedi (עין גדי)

Another fantastic day trip is Ein Gedi, a reserve on the same route as that to the Dead Sea. This desert oasis features two parallel canyons, known as Wadi David (נחל דוד) and Wadi Arugot (נחל ערוגות), each one boasting stunning sights and hiking trails. These short walks go along streams that lead to year-round waterfalls and freshwater pools to take a dip in; you’ll also find yourself surrounded by surprisingly lush vegetation in the heart of the desert. The reserve is also populated by Nubian ibex and boulder-dwelling hyraxes, and it features the ruins of an ancient synagogue with a stunning fifth-century mosaic floor.

Bonus: Survival Hebrew for Your Trip

Swiss Army Knife

Finally, let’s take a look at some of the most useful words and phrases to practice before your trip to Jerusalem (or even during your flight there!). Just like in any other country, knowing a few words—and even just the fact that you’ve made the effort—can go a long way with the locals, even if they speak English.

  1. שלום
    Shalom.
    “Hello.” / “Goodbye.” (literally: “Peace.”)
  1. תודה
    Todah.
    “Thanks.”
  1. להתראות
    Lehitra’ot.
    “See you later.”
  1. סליחה
    Slikha.
    “Sorry.”
  1. יופי
    Yofi.
    “Nice.” / “Great.”
  1. אני לא מבין/מבינה
    Ani lo mevin/mevinah.
    “I don’t understand.”
  1. איפה השירותים?
    Eyfoh ha-sherutim?
    “Where is the bathroom?”
  1. כמה זה עולה?
    Kamah zeh oleh?
    “How much does this cost?”
  1. אקח אותו!
    Ekakh oto!
    “I’ll take it!”
  1. הצילו!
    Hatzilu!
    “Help!”

Make the Most of Your Trip and Prepare in Advance with HebrewPod101

As I’m sure you can see, Jerusalem and Israel in general are fascinating places to explore, full of culture, history, and more. For such a small country, Israel contains quite a variety of sights, experiences, and even micro-climates. 

But why not make your trip even more meaningful by learning something about where you’re going and the people who live there? After all, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as traveling abroad and being able to communicate with the locals in their own language, especially if you also know something about their country and culture.

We at HebrewPod101 are dedicated to providing you with enriching materials that will not only help you learn Hebrew, but also get you acquainted with Israel, Israeli and Jewish culture, and anything else that can make your experience with the language and country more meaningful and interesting.

We hope you have a wonderful trip to Jerusalem! But before you book your flight, is there anything we missed? Feel free to get in touch and let us know if there’s anything else you’d like to know about Jerusalem, Israel as a whole, or the Hebrew language in general. Shalom!

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English Words in the Hebrew Language: Do You Speak Hebrish?

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Did you know that modern Hebrew is literally riddled with words borrowed from or inspired by English? While the modern age, globally interconnected as it is, has seen many languages absorb some words from English, the prevalence of English words in the Hebrew language may be considered a unique phenomenon. 

This is because Hebrew remained completely unspoken for almost two millennia, and thus did not evolve its lexicon naturally as other, continuously used languages did. When Jews finally did begin reviving Hebrew in the late nineteenth century, there was a vast void of missing vocabulary needed to describe all the trappings of modernity. Moreover, from 1917 until 1948, then-Palestine (what is now Israel and the Palestinian territories) was under British rule, making English a natural source to draw on in cases where Hebrew lacked a certain word or phrase.

In fact, there are numerous cases of Hebrew speakers opting for an English word even when there is a good Hebrew word for something!

The revival of Hebrew was initially a very conscious effort, led chiefly by master linguist and mad idealist Eliezer ben Yehuda. However, as Hebrew caught hold of more and more Zionist Jews as a spoken language, it inevitably began to take on a life of its own—especially following the births of the first generations of Jews to speak Hebrew as a first language. Naturally, as time progressed, modern Hebrew shifted away from the academic sphere to become the home turf of those who spoke it natively.

Ben Yehuda, as head of the academic camp reviving the language, founded ועד הלשון העברית (Va’ad ha-Lashon ha-’Ivrit), or “The Hebrew Language Committee” in 1890. He also started the first Hebrew dictionary to include both classical and modern Hebrew words. In coining new words, he would generally first attempt to draw on Hebrew roots, or שורשים (shorashim). However, where he failed to find a relevant root or where the result was awkward, he would turn to Aramaic or Arabic in search of a source word, due to their proximity to Hebrew—both are members of the Semitic language family. However, polyglot that he was, he also drew on various other languages, as well. This was despite fierce resistance from others involved in reviving the language, who vocally rejected any foreign influence on the language. Ben Yehuda was among a minority who seemed to recognize that linguistic interchange was not only a matter of course, but also nothing to be ashamed of in a place as linguistically diverse as Israel and for a people as culturally diverse as the Jews.

Regardless of academic attempts to keep Hebrew “pure,” once Hebrew sprouted its own wings as a spoken language, speakers naturally began importing loanwords into Hebrew from the other languages they spoke or read, as well as applying linguistic features from other languages to modify proper Hebrew words. Even the academics themselves seemingly could not resist this organic change toward expanding and refining the language with some help from abroad. In 1953, The Hebrew Language Committee changed its name to האקדמיה ללשון העברית (Ha-Akademiyah la-Lashon ha-’Ivrit), or “The Academy of the Hebrew Language.” This change swapped out the Hebrew ועד (va’ad), or “committee,” for אקדמיה (akademiyah), meaning “academy.” This word derives from the Greek Akadēmos, probably reaching Hebrew by way of English’s “academy” or perhaps French’s académie.

With the passage of time, a second wave of English influence swept over the Hebrew language, thanks to immigration, tourism, and business ties to Israel on the part of English speakers. In addition, English-language media such as movies, TV shows, music, and later the Internet, have all made their mark on the language, endowing it with a trove of lexical contributions in every sphere.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some examples of how English words have made their way into Hebrew and how they are used. And as a bonus, we’ll wrap up by taking a look at some English words whose Hebrew provenance may well surprise you. 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. As-Is Loanwords
  2. Gendered Loanwords
  3. Hebrew Verbs Formed From English Words
  4. Some English-to-Hebrew Fails
  5. English Words Originating in Hebrew
  6. Let HebrewPod101 Help You Make the Link Between Hebrew and English

As-Is Loanwords

The first category of common English words in Hebrew we’ll cover are the English loanwords you’re most likely to hear Hebrew speakers use in a similar fashion to their original English counterparts. Keep in mind that their application may not always be exactly the same in Hebrew as in English.

Handing Out Loan
  1. היי
    hay
    “hi”

This one is used just the same as it is in English. This is notwithstanding the fact that שלום (shalom) is the proper Hebrew greeting, and, in fact, can also be used as a farewell.

היי! מה שלומך?
Hay! Mah shlomekh?
Hi! How are you?”

  1. ביי
    bay
    “bye”

Once again, this is used the same in Hebrew as it is in English.

היה כיף לראות אותך. ביי!
Hayah keyf lir’ot otkha. Bay!
“It was good to see you. Bye!”

  1. קול
    kul
    “cool”

This one is pretty straightforward. Israelis often use this English word in the same slang sense as English speakers do. Here’s an example:

אתה טס לניו יורק? איזה קול!
Atah tas le-Nyu York? Eyzeh kul!
“You’re flying to New York? How cool!”

  1. פליז
    pliz
    please

This is an example of an English word that has an exact Hebrew semantic parallel but is used alternatively for emphasis.

אמא, בבקשה תני לי גלידה. פליז!
Imma, bevakashah tni li glidah. Pliz!
“Mom, please give me ice cream. Please!”

Please Sign with Hands
  1. סורי
    sori
    “sorry”

This is another case where a word that exists in Hebrew—סליחה (slikhah), meaning “sorry“—may be substituted by its English equivalent for emphasis.

שכחתי להביא לך את הכסף. סורי!
Shakhakhti lehavi lekha et ha-kesef. Sori!
“I forgot to bring you the money. Sorry!”

  1. טלפון
    telefon
    telephone

האם יש לך את מספר הטלפון של רם?
Ha’im yesh lekha et mispar ha-telefon shel Ram?
“Do you have Ram’s telephone number?”

Interestingly, it was Eliezer ben Yehuda who tried to introduce an alternative word for this device: שח-רחוק (sakh-rakhok), which is derived from the following words: 

  • שיחה (sikhah) – “conversation”
  • רחוק (rakhok) – “distant”

However, this coinage was ultimately rejected by the Hebrew Language Committee, and the more universal טלפון (telefon) is still in use today.

  1. אוטו
    oto
    automobile

While the truncated form of this word (combined with its Hebrew pronunciation) may throw you off, this everyday Hebrew word simply means “automobile.” It is used synonymously with the proper Hebrew word, מכונית (mekhonit).

איפה חנינו את האוטו?
Eyfoh khaninu et ha-oto?
“Where did we park the car?”

Car
  1. אינטרנט
    internet
    internet

Though the Academy of the Hebrew Language tried to get Israelis to use the Hebrew neologism מרשתת (mirshetet), formed from the word רשת (reshet), meaning “net,” Israelis still universally use this loanword from English.

האינטרנט כאן ממש איטי.
Ha-Internet kan mamash iti.
“The Internet here is really slow.”

  1. רדיו
    radyo
    “radio”

This one is the same in Hebrew as in English.

הגבר את הרדיו. אני רוצה לשמוע את החדשות.
Hagber et ha-radyo. Ani rotzah lishmo’a et ha-khadashot.
“Turn up the radio. I want to listen to the news.”

Radio
  1. ג’ינס
    jins
    “jeans”

Ever since James Dean and Marilyn Monroe made them hip, bluejeans have seemingly been in style the world over, and Israel is no exception.

קניתי ג’ינס חדש בקניון.
Kaniti jins khadash ba-kanyon.
“I bought new jeans at the mall.”

  1. פול
    ful
    “full” / “a lot of”

This one can have either the same meaning as in English or be used slightly differently to mean a lot of something. Again, this idea can be expressed in proper Hebrew, but English is often used instead, just to be קול (kul).

יש לי פול זמן מחר. בואו ניפגש.
Yesh li ful zman makhar. Bo’u nipagesh.
“I have a lot of time tomorrow. Let’s get together.”

  1. ווליום
    volyum
    “volume”

This one is another case of an English word that has a perfectly serviceable Hebrew equivalent (עוצמה [otzmah]), but is nevertheless often preferred by Israelis, often in conjunction with our previous example.

אני אוהב לשמוע מוסיקה בפול ווליום כשאני רץ.
Ani ohev lishmo’a musikah be-ful volyum ke-she-ani ratz.
“I like to listen to music at full volume when I run.”

  1. ספיישל
    speshel
    “special”

This word is used in a way that linguists called “narrowing.” That is to say, Hebrew does not employ it to describe just anything special—the word for which is מיוחד (meyukhad)—but is rather used in specific cases, particularly in reference to a special media event or to describe taxis pre-hired to go from a given point of departure to a given destination (as opposed to a taxi flagged down as it circulates).

אנחנו נוסעים לשדה התעופה הלילה במונית ספיישל.
Anakhnu nos’im li-sdeh ha-te’ufah halaylah be-monit speshel.
“We’re headed to the airport tonight in a special taxi.”

Taxi
  1. פופקורן
    popkoren
    “popcorn”

This one is a bit funny-sounding to the English ear in its Hebrew iteration. Perhaps due to the relatively common Hebrew last name Koren, Israelis have inserted an extra vowel between the final R and N.

בא לכם פופקורן עם הסרט?
Ba lakhem popkoren ‘im ha-seret?
“Do you want popcorn with the movie?”

  1. קורס
    kurs
    “course”

This one is pretty straightforward. As in English, this is used to refer to any sort of training or shorter educational undertaking.

אני רוצה לעשות קורס צניחה חופשית בסוף השבוע.
Ani rotzeh la’asot kurs tznikhah khofshit be-sof ha-shavu’ah.
“I want to take a skydiving course this weekend.”

  1. פרויקט
    proyect
    “project”

This one is almost as-is, but it does have a modified pronunciation in Hebrew.

פרויקט העירייה החדש עלה פי שלוש מהמתכונן.
Proyekt ha-’iriyah he-khadash ‘alah pi shalosh me-ha-metukhnan.
“The municipality’s new project cost three times as much as planned.”

  1. פינישים
    finishim
    “finishing/fine touches”

This is another case of narrowing. This word is not used to say “finish”—the Hebrew word for which is either לגמור (ligmor) or לסיים (lesayem)—but specifically to refer to the fine last details in a task, work of art, etc. It’s most often used in modified form to bear the Hebrew masculine plural form (ending in -ים [-im]).

חסרים רק כמה פינישים אחרונים ואני כבר מסיים את הפרויקט.
Khaserim rak kamah finishim akharonim va-ani kvar mesayem et ha-proyect.
“I have a few finishing touches left before I can complete the project.”

  1. טנק
    tank
    “tank”

This one is an important importation from English, as Israel’s armored corps is world-famous for its military prowess. 

בצבא הייתי מפקד טנק.
Ba-tzavah hayiti mefaked tank.
“In the military, I was a tank commander.”

Tank

Gendered Loanwords

Unlike English, Hebrew is a gendered language. This means that all nouns and adjectives are either masculine or feminine. Let’s look at some cases where English words in the Hebrew language get hebracized when describing the feminine versus the masculine.

  1. ברמן
    barmen
    “bartender”

This one is taken from British English, in which barmen tend bar at pubs (versus North American English, in which bartenders tend bar at bars). Aside from the fact that this gets gendered to describe a female bartender, note that Israelis also pronounce the male singular form as if it were the plural in English.

דן הוא ברמן. גם דנה היא ברמנית.
Dan hu barmen. Gam Danah hi barmenit.
“Dan is a bartender. Dana is a bartender too.”

Bartender
  1. סנוב
    snob
    “snob”

This is another English loanword that gets gendered when describing a female.

שלמה הוא ממש סנוב. חברה שלו, יונית, היא סנובית אפילו יותר גרועה.
Shlomoh hu mamash snob. Khaverah shelo, Yonit, hi snobit afilu yoter geru’ah.
“Shlomo is a real snob. His girlfriend, Yonit, is an even worse snob.”

  1. מניאק
    maniyak
    “maniac”

This one means much the same thing in Hebrew as it does in English.

אל תהיה מניאק כמו אחותך המניאקית.
Al tihiyeh maniyak k’mo akhotkha ha-maniyakit.
“Don’t be a maniac like your maniac sister.”

Crazy Looking Man
  1. די-ג’יי
    di-jay
    “DJ”

This term, as well, means precisely the same thing in Hebrew as it does in English.

רון הוא די-ג’יי מצויין ואשתו, שרה, היא די-ג’ייאית אפילו יותר טובה.
Ron hu di-jey metzuyan ve-’ishto, Sarah, hi di-jayit afilu yoter tovah.
“Ron is a great DJ, and his wife, Sarah, is an even better DJ.

DJ at Club

Hebrew Verbs Formed From English Words

Because of its root system, Hebrew has great flexibility in the formation of new words. In some cases, Hebrew takes English words and turns them into fully functional, conjugatable Hebrew verbs. Because of the rules of ניקוד (nikkud), or “diacritical marks,” this often produces some funny-sounding results to the English ear. Here are some examples.

  1. לבלף
    lebalef
    “to bluff”

אני כבר רואה שאתה מבלף. שכחת את יום ההולדת שלי לגמרי!
Ani kvar ro’ah she-atah mevalef. Shakhakta et yom ha-huledet sheli legamrey!
“I can already see that you’re bluffing. You completely forgot my birthday!”

Poker Game
  1. למקסם
    lemaksem
    “to maximize”

כל הכבוד! מיקסמנו את המכירות שלנו ברבעון האחרון!
Kol ha-kavod! Miksamnu et ha-mekhirot shelanu ba-riv’on ha-akharon!
“Way to go! We maximized our sales in the last quarter!”

  1. לפמפם
    lepampem
    “to pump”

זה אוטו ישן. פימפמת את הבלמים?
Zeh oto yashan. Pimpamta et ha-b’lamim?
“This is an old car. Did you pump the brakes?”

  1. לדסקס
    ledaskes
    “to discuss”

בוא נדסקס את זה ביום ראשון אצלי במשרד.
Bo nedaskes et zeh be-Yom Rishon etzli ba-misrad.
“Let’s discuss it Sunday in my office.”

Women Having Discussion at Work
  1. לדקלם
    ledaklem
    “to declaim” / “to recite”

בני בן השנתיים כבר יודע לדקלם את אותיות האל”ף-בי”ת.
B’ni ben ha-shnatayim kvar yode’a ledaklem et otiyot ha-alef-beyt.
“My two-year-old son can already recite the letters of the alphabet.”

Some English-to-Hebrew Fails

A final category of loanwords that will hopefully bring a smile to your lips (as you practice pronouncing them) are Hebrew words that originated in English but went through some distortion, or even corruption, during their entry into Hebrew. 

  1. פנצ’ר
    pancher
    “puncture” / “flat tire”

This one would make sense to the English ear if the pronunciation weren’t so different from the original. Note that ‘puncture’ is the more common British way of referring to what North Americans usually call a ‘flat tire.’

אני חייב למצוא מוסך תיכף מיד. יש לי פנצ’ר.
Ani khayav limtzo musakh tekhef u-miyad. Yesh li pancher.
“I need to find a garage right away. I have a flat tire.”

Flat Tire
  1. אינסטלטור
    instelator
    “plumber”

One can only assume that whoever coined this word had the English verb “install” in mind, and figured that an ‘instelator would be the person installing a sink or toilet tank. Though a proper Hebrew word for “plumber” does exist—שרברב (shravrav)—this Hebrish word is far more common in Israel today.

יש לך מספר של איזה אינסטלטור? כל הבית שלי מוצף!
Yesh lekha mispar shel eyzeh ‘instelator? Kol ha-bayit sheli mutzaf!
“Do you have the number of a plumber? My whole house is flooded!”

Plumber
  1. סנפלינג
    snepling
    “rappelling”

This is the product of another linguistic mixup. Someone must have heard the term “snap link” while rock climbing, and, confusing the “ink” for an “-ing” suffix, coined this word. Today, Israelis (including in the military!) use this word to refer to rappelling.

למדתי לעשות סנפלינג כחלק מקורס מצילים בצבא.
Lamadti la’asot snepling ke-khelek mi-kurs metzilim ba-tzava.
“I learned rappelling as part of a rescuers course in the army.”

  1. טוקבקים
    tokbekim
    “feedback”

This one comes from the TalkBack Reader Response System, one of the first online systems to allow users to post feedback on a website. Between the linguistic “widening” (the opposite of narrowing) of TalkBack and its funny pronunciation, this one is likely to baffle the uninitiated English speaker.

ראית את מה שהוא כתב בטוקבקים על המאמר על הנשיא?
Ra’it et mah she-hu katav ba-tokbekim ‘al ha-ma’amar ‘al ha-nasi?
“Did you see what he wrote in the feedback on that article on the president?”

  1. לעשות פן
    la’asot fen
    “to blow-dry”

This one presumably derives from the English word “fan,” which a hairdryer certainly contains. By the logic of this phrase, blow-drying or straightening one’s hair is literally “to do the fan.”

עשיתי פן לפני המסיבה כי היו לי קרזולים.
Asiti fen lifney ha-mesibah ki hayu li kirzulim.
“I blow-dried my hair before the party because I had frizz.”

Blow Drying Hair
  1. מסטינג
    mesting
    “mess kit”

This one is a distortion of the English word “mess tin,” which traditionally was a standard-issue set of utensils for soldiers to carry in their kit, which was originally made of tin. As in the case of סנפלינג (snepling), it’s likely that the Hebrew ear misheard the final “in” as an “-ing” suffix.

אכלנו מאותו המסטינג.
Akhalnu me-oto ha-mesting.
“We ate from the same mess kit.”

(This is a common way of saying that people were brothers in arms during their military service, or that they grew up together.)

  1. סוודר
    sveder
    “sweater”

This is another commonly used Hebrish word that, due to the pronunciation, might give English speakers pause.

קר בחוץ. אשים לי סוודר.
Kar ba-khutz. Asim li sveder.
“It’s cold outside. I’m going to put on a sweater.”

Sweatshirt
  1. פאקים
    fakim
    “mistakes” / “problems” / “kinks”

If you listen carefully enough and scratch your head a bit, you may be surprised at the English word this one is based on, particularly as it’s used commonly enough in Hebrew without being considered offensive!

יש לנו עוד כמה פאקים לסדר בתוכנית השנתית.
Yesh lanu ‘od kamah fakim lesader ba-tokhnit ha-shnatit.
“We have a few more kinks to iron out in the annual plan.”

English Words Originating in Hebrew

Did you know there are also a few English words with Hebrew roots? While Hebrew pales in its contribution to the English language when compared to Latin, Greek, or French, it has nevertheless registered a few key entries—some of which you may never have imagined were based in Hebrew. The vast majority of these words, it should be noted, come from Biblical rather than modern Hebrew

  1. behemoth

This word comes from the Hebrew word בהמות (behemot), meaning “beasts.” In English, the word is typically used to describe something of large proportions, if not necessarily a living creature.

  1. Sabbath

This word comes from the Hebrew word שבת (Shabbat), which originally referred to the seventh day of creation in the Genesis story. God is described as having rested from his work of creating the Universe on this day. לשבות (lishbot), the verb related to this word, means “to rest” or “to desist.”

Sabbath Challah Bread
  1. Sabbatical

This word also comes from לשבות (lishbot). In English, it refers to a professional leave of absence, typically every few years.

  1. amen

From אמן (amen), meaning “verily,” this is used in Hebrew the same way as it is in English, as an affirmation of beliefs or hopes.

People Praying at Church
  1. hallelujah

In a similar vein, this comes from the Hebrew הללויה (haleluyah), meaning “praise the Lord.”

  1. cider

This word derives from the Biblical word שכר (shekhar), which referred to some type of fermented alcoholic drink, although scholars are unsure precisely how it was prepared. It’s ironic to note that Israelis today call the beverage cider, or סיידר (sayder)!

  1. jubilee

Jubilee is based on the word יובל (Yovel), referring to the Biblical practice according to which slaves were freed and lands returned to their original owners every fifty years. As this was a time of great celebration, the loanword in English came to mean “celebration.”

  1. Leviathan

The לביתן (Livyatan) is described in Genesis as one of the great sea creatures God made during the creation of the Universe. In English, it can refer to this same creature, to a large sea vessel, or to anything immense.

  1. messiah

This word comes from the Hebrew word משיח (mashi’akh), meaning “anointed.” In Biblical times, it was common practice to anoint kings with oil upon their coronation.

  1. rabbi

This word comes from the Hebrew word רב (rav), meaning “great” as well as “master.” It refers to Jewish religious leaders and teachers.

  1. macabre

This is derived from the Hebrew word מכבים (Makabim), or “Maccabees,” the heroes of the Hanukkah story. In the Middle Ages, morality plays typically featured a Chorea Maccabaeorum, or Dance of the Maccabees, probably representing the slaughter of the Maccabees. In French, this was known as the danse macabre, which evolved in English into the Dance Macabre or “Dance of Death,” eventually giving us the word ‘macabre.’

  1. schwa

This word is more likely to be familiar to linguists and language teachers. Used to refer to an unstressed vowel, it originates from the Hebrew diacritical mark שווא (shva), which denotes the same phoneme in Hebrew.

  1. seraph

This is an angelic being the Bible refers to as שרף (saraf). The English adjective “seraphic” can be used to describe great beauty.

  1. cherub

This is another angelic being referred to in the Bible, called כרוב (kruv) in Hebrew. The adjective “cherubic” is used in English to describe childlike or pristine beauty.

Scene with Angels
  1. shibboleth

This English term refers to a word, saying, practice, custom, or any other shared feature that distinguishes one group from another. It comes from the Hebrew word שיבולת (shibolet), meaning “ear of corn,” which was used by the Gileadites in the Bible as a password to identify one another. This worked because their enemy, the Ephraimites, apparently pronounced the phoneme ש (/ʃ/) as ס (/s/).

Let HebrewPod101 Help You Make the Link Between Hebrew and English

We hope you found today’s lesson interesting and informative. As you can see, Hebrew and English may not be quite as distant from one another as they first seem. In any event, we at HebrewPod101.com strive to bridge the gap so that you can learn Hebrew with clear Hebrew-language examples alongside helpful and interesting English-language explanations.

Are there any Hebrish words you’ve encountered that we didn’t cover? Any English words borrowed from Hebrew that we forgot to mention? We’re always happy to hear from our readers and students, so please get in touch with your feedback!

Until next time, bye…I mean, shalom!

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Pesach: The Jewish Passover

In Judaism, Passover is one of the most important holidays of the year. It celebrates the release of the Jews from Egypt as described in the biblical book of Exodus, and commemorates the events leading up to it. 

Maybe you’ve heard of Passover before, but never really understood what it’s about or how it’s celebrated. If so, this article will be your golden ticket to understanding the basics and getting better acquainted with Jewish culture and traditions. 

Let’s get started!

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1. What is Passover?

A Depiction of the Passover Sacrifice

Passover is a Jewish holiday celebrated for seven days during אביב (aviv), or spring. The celebration of this holiday is commanded and outlined in the biblical books of Exodus and Leviticus, and the purpose of this holiday is to commemorate the events leading up to the חירות (kherut), or freedom, of the Israelites after fleeing Egypt. 

The history of Passover in the Bible can be found in the book of Exodus, according to which the Jews were once enslaved by the people of Egypt. In the form of a burning bush, Yahweh commanded משה (Moshe), or Moses, to speak with Pharaoh about releasing the Israelites. Despite Moses’s strong faith and devotion, he lacked confidence in his speaking abilities and rather had his older brother אהרון (Aharon), or Aaron, speak on his behalf. When Pharaoh refused, Yahweh brought about the עשר מכות (Eser makot), or 10 Plagues, which wreaked havoc among the Egyptians and caused many deaths. 

The last of these plagues was the killing of all Egyptian firstborn sons, including the Pharaoh’s own son. The Israelites were spared this plague, for Yahweh commanded them to mark their doors with the blood of a lamb which would cause the Angel of Death to pass over them. It is this event which the holiday is named after. 

Passover is one of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals. You can learn about the other two on our website! 

2. When is Passover This Year?

springtime flowers in a green field

The first day of Passover begins on the fifteenth of Nissan according to the Jewish calendar. Here are the start and end dates of this holiday on the Gregorian calendar for the next ten years: 

  • 2021: March 27 – April 4
  • 2022: April 15 – April 22
  • 2023: April 5 – April 12
  • 2024: April 22 – April 29
  • 2025: April 12 – April 19
  • 2026: April 1 – April 9
  • 2027: April 21 – April 29
  • 2028: April 10 – April 18
  • 2029: March 30 – April 7
  • 2030: April 17 – April 25

3. Passover Traditions

seder tu bishvat, or Passover food

Passover traditions actually begin the morning before, on the fourteenth of Nissan. This is when observant Jews scour their homes for any trace of חמץ (khametz), or hametz. Hametz refers to any type of leavened product, which is prohibited on Passover. All of the hametz that’s found in one’s home must be burned.

Another event that takes place prior to the actual Passover holiday is the Fast of the Firstborn. This is a fast that the firstborn son of every practicing Jewish family participates in to commemorate the fact that Yahweh spared all of the Jewish firstborns in the Exodus story. However, people are allowed to break this fast in the event of a celebratory event; synagogues often host such an event so that the firstborn sons can eat during Passover.

On the evening of the first day of Passover, observant Jews have the Passover seder. This is a special meal that aids in telling the Passover story and keeping it fresh in mind. The Passover meal consists of several different foods which symbolize key aspects of the Israelites’ journey to freedom: 

  • מרור (maror), which are bitter herbs symbolizing the bitterness of the Jews’ slavery
  • חרוסת (kharoset), or charoseth, which is a sweet mix of fruit and nuts with honey, symbolizing the mortar Jewish slaves used in building
  • מצה (matzah), or matzo, which is an unleavened bread product symbolizing the unleavened bread eaten by the fleeing Israelites

It’s also customary to pour wine for each guest, as well as a glass for the Prophet Elijah who is said to visit the homes of those observing the seder. 

Each of these food elements is held and consumed in accordance with the Exodus story from the Haggadah. In addition, the recital of the Four Questions takes place during the seder. 

The following day (the sixteenth of Nissan) marks another milestone on the Jewish calendar: it’s fifty days before Shavuot. It begins the Counting of the Omer, during which Jews begin the countdown to Shavuot. 

  • See our vocabulary on Israeli Food to learn more useful cuisine-related words! 

4. Afikoman

Another fascinating Passover tradition involves the children. Parents cut off part of the matzah from the seder, called the אפיקומן (Afikoman), and hide it. The children are then encouraged to find it in order to receive presents as compensation. 

A common variation of this tradition is for the children to steal the Afikoman themselves and return it in exchange for gifts. 

5. Essential Hebrew Vocabulary for Passover

different Passover foods

Here are some of the most important vocabulary words and phrases for Passover in Israel:

  • Spring – אביב (aviv), noun [m]
  • Arm – זרוע (z’roa’), noun [f]
  • Egypt – מצרים (mitz’rayim), noun [f]
  • Passover – פסח (Pesakh), noun [m]
  • Red Sea – ים סוף (Yam Suf), noun [m]
  • Pilgrimage – עליה לרגל (aliya la-regel), noun [f]
  • Afikoman – אפיקומן (Afikoman), noun [m]
  • Aaron – אהרון (Aharon), noun [m]
  • 10 Plagues – עשר מכות (Eser makot), noun [f]
  • Song of Songs – שיר השירים (Shir ha`shirim), noun [m]
  • Passover Sacrifice – קורבן פסח (Korban Pesakh), noun [m]
  • Pharaoh – פרעה (Par-oh), noun [m]
  • Moses – משה (Moshe), noun [m]
  • Matzo – מצה (matzah), noun [f]
  • Maror – מרור (maror), noun [m]
  • Hametz – חמץ (khametz), noun [m]
  • Freedom – חירות (kherut), noun [f]
  • Cleaning – נקיון (nikayon), noun [m]
  • Charoseth – חרוסת (kharoset), noun [f]

Also be sure to head over to our Passover vocabulary list! Here, you can listen to the pronunciation of each word and practice along with the recordings.

Final Thoughts

The Jewish Passover is a defining holiday for Jews in Israel and around the world, so we hope you enjoyed learning about it with us! What are some of the important religious holidays in your country? 

If you liked this lesson and want to continue exploring Israeli culture and the Hebrew language, make sure to explore HebrewPod101.com and take advantage of our numerous resources. Our free vocabulary lists, online dictionary, and numerous audio and video lessons will help you reach your language learning goals sooner than you think! 

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The Top 25 Hebrew Quotes

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In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “It is a pleasure to be able to quote lines to fit any occasion.” 

While this may be a truism, the unique allure of the aptly chosen and well-timed quote is something many of us give little thought to. The famous actress and singer Marlene Dietrich offers one insightful quote about quotes to help sum up this common phenomenon: “I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself.”

Now, how does this apply to Hebrew quotes specifically?

While slipping in a pithy quote would seem to be a universal practice, one might argue that Jewish culture prizes it more so than other cultures. This may be because, as the People of the Book, Jews have historically viewed specific—and often encyclopedic—knowledge of Scripture and the ensuant body of legal and literary works as a special badge of erudition. In fact, the phenomenon of citing a well-turned, previously coined phrase is already ingrained in the Hebrew Bible itself, which contains multiple instances of self-reference (i.e. quoting verses in one part of the Bible from another part). 

It comes as no surprise that the Bible should be such a common source of quotes, widely read as it is the world over. Moreover, there are numerous works in the Bible that are quite clearly consciously preoccupied with the shaping of eloquent language to express the variety of life’s experiences with concision and panache. Indeed, by way of example, the Book of Proverbs is so named because it is just that: a sententious anthology of aphorisms beautifully shaped to the unique economical lines of the Hebrew language.

Indeed, Hebrew quotes from or about the Torah have long dominated the quotation scene, so to speak. This is largely due to the fact that, though Hebrew continued to be used more or less continuously in the post-Biblical era to produce religiously themed works of poetry and prose, there was no real secular Jewish culture or literature until relatively recently in history. On this note, it’s important to keep in mind that integration and assimilation were, for the most part, not possible throughout most of Jewish history, particularly in Europe. As a result, with a few notable exceptions, Jews didn’t really participate in secular culture even where it had taken root in the broader societies in which they lived.

Moreover, beginning from the Roman Exile around the year 70 BCE, Jews largely abandoned Hebrew as a spoken language. During this time, Yiddish (a blend of Hebrew and German) was the lingua franca of most European Jewish communities—or Ashkenazi Jews—and Ladino (a mixture of Hebrew and Spanish) was the preferred tongue among Sephardic Jewish communities, namely those from Spain. Indeed, outside of Israel, Hebrew was generally deemed inappropriate for use in describing lay matters; it became consciously reserved as לשון הקודש (leshon ha-kodesh), or “the language of holy matters.”

Thus, the vast majority of literary endeavors in Jewish communities were restricted to religious texts throughout most of history. However, particularly from the Haskalah movement of the late nineteenth century onward, European Jews (and later their brethren elsewhere) found entry into the secular, enlightened world. They henceforth began both partaking of and contributing to it, including through secular writings on all manner of topics. Many of these texts were, however, not in Hebrew, but rather in European languages like German, French, and English. One need only think of a few representative luminaries, such as Franz Kafka, Sigmund Freud, Arthur Miller, and Ayn Rand to realize that the Jewish contribution to modern-world literature has been nothing less than immense.

Apart from opening doors to the literary worlds of other languages, the Haskalah movement also gave rise to a new, secularized Jewish culture that emphasized the revival of Hebrew writing as a vehicle to express worldly (as opposed to religious) matters. The movement also marked a division between Yiddish- and Hebrew-language literature, the latter of which also represents a fairly broad corpus of secular (as well as religious) works.

With the expansion of the Zionist movement at the turn of the twentieth century, and with the return of ever-increasing numbers of Jews to their historical home in the Land of Israel, a new Hebrew literature flourished, as did the language’s lexis and range of expression. Hebrew novels, poems, and songs, as well as journalistic, academic, and technical texts, abounded with each passing year. Fast-forward to the modern State of Israel today, and Hebrew as a written language is not only alive and well, but more robust than ever. It’s also ever-evolving, with countless works published in every possible genre and field each year. 

As a result of all this rich history, today’s Hebrew-speaking world has a broad and varied corpus of literature—both historical and new—to draw on when looking for the right quote for any given occasion. In today’s lesson, we’ll look at the top 25 Hebrew quotes, covering a range of topics from love to learning, and everything in-between. Enjoy!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Quotes About Life
  2. Quotes About Love
  3. Quotes About Time
  4. Quotes About Work
  5. Quotes About Family and Friendship
  6. Quotes About Wisdom and Foolishness
  7. Quotes About Food and Drink
  8. Quotes About Happiness and Health
  9. Quotes About Language
  10. Conclusion

1. Quotes About Life

Earth from Space

We’ll start by looking at some Hebrew quotes about life that cover topics such as the passage of time, the pace of life, life’s different stages, and the difficulties that life puts before us.

1. ואבא תמיד אומר, תעזבנו יום, יעזבך יומיים. העגלה נוסעת, אין עצור. קפצת ממנה היום, חלפו שנתיים והנה נשארת מאחור.

-מאיר אריאל, “נשל הנחש”

Ve-Abba tamid omer, ta’azvenu yom, ya’azvekha yomayim. Ha-agalah nosa’at, eyn atzor. Kafatzta mimenah hayom, khalfu sh’natayim ve-hine nish’arta me-akhor.

-Me’ir Ari’el, Neshel ha-Nakhash

“And father always says, leave it a day, it will leave you for two. The wagon travels on; there is no stopping. Jump off it today, two years go by. And look, you’ve been left behind.”

-Meir Ariel, The Skin of the Snake

This quote comes from a famous song by modern Israeli singer-songwriter Meir Ariel. The lines cited speak to the notion that life can easily pass us by if we don’t keep up with the pace of things. The quote itself actually paraphrases a passage from the Talmud, the main corpus of Jewish legal interpretations. The original Talmud passage means, essentially, that if you leave something undone, don’t expect it to hang around waiting for you.

2. הכל עבר כל כך מהר וקצת קשה להיזכר איך פעם זה היה פשוט לשיר לחיות ולא למות.

-יהונתן גפן, “אתם זוכרים את השירים”

Ha-kol avar kol kakh maher u-ktzat kasheh lehizakher eykh pa’am zeh hayah pashut lashir likhyot ve-lo lamut.

-Yehonatan Geffen, “Atem Zokhrim et ha-Shirim”

“Everything went by so quickly, and it’s a bit hard to remember how once it was simple to sing, to live, and not to die.”

-Yehonatan Geffen, You Remember the Songs

This quote about life is from author, poet, and songwriter Yehonatan Geffen. It comes from a song that embodies the feeling of nostalgia for one’s lost youth and the innocence of days gone by. The line cited captures the particular poignancy of such nostalgia from an Israeli perspective: the loss of youth goes hand in hand with the realization of the dangers and difficulties of life in a world in constant war.

3. כל ההתחלות קשות, אך קשה מהן היא ההתמדה.

-חיים נחמן ביאליק

Kol ha-hatkhalot kashot, akh kasheh me-hen hi ha-hatmadah.

-Khayim Nakhman Bialik

“All beginnings are hard, but harder yet is perseverance.”

-Khayim Nakhman Bialik

This is indeed an oft-cited quote in Israel, coming from the pen of one of modern Israel’s greatest poets. Bialik was so influential as a pioneer of Hebrew language poetry—apart from his prominence as a Yiddish writer—that for a long period, much poetry from other Hebrew writers was essentially derivative of his style. This is another quote that paraphrases an earlier Rabbinic precept, according to which beginnings are particularly difficult. The quote goes further by pointing out that it’s even more difficult to stick to something over time.

2. Quotes About Love

Pages Folded in Heart Shape

Now, let’s take a look at a topic we all love: love! We’ll examine three Hebrew quotes on love, each quote representing one of the three general periods of Hebrew: modern, Rabbinic, and Biblical.

4. בין האפל לנסתר בעולמנו המר, אומרים שיש עוד תקווה. קוראים לזה אהבה ומחכים לבואה.

-ארקדי דוכין, “יש בי אהבה”

Beyn ha-afel la-nistar be-olamenu ha-mar, omrim she-yesh od tikvah. Kor’im le-zeh ahavah u-mekhakim le-vo’ah.

-Arkadi Dukhin, “Yesh Bi Ahavah”

“Between the hazy and the hidden in our bitter world, they say there is still hope. It’s called love, and we await its coming.”

-Arkadi Duchin, I Have Love

This quote by famous singer-songwriter Arkadi Duchin is a beautiful encapsulation of both the need for love in a broken world and the deep yearning we all feel for it.

5. כל אהבה שהיא תלויה בדבר, בטל דבר בטלה אהבה. ושאינה תלויה בדבר אינה בטלה לעולם.

פרקי אבות ה’:י”ט

Kol ahavah she-hi tluyah be-davar, batel davar batlah ahavah. Ve-she-eynah tluyah be-davar eynah batlah le-olam.

-Masekhet Avot 5:19

“All love that is reliant upon a thing annuls that same thing. Love that is not reliant upon a thing will last forever.”

-Chapters of the Fathers 5:19

This pearl of wisdom comes from a famous compilation of ethical teachings from the Rabbinic sages. It gives eloquent expression to the notion that true love is not dependent on material matters, and that any love that does depend on something material is bound to be lost if that material thing is lost. This is similar to, though more analytical and specific than, the English adage, “True love lasts forever.”

6. אני לדודי ודודי לי, הרעה בשושנים.

-שיר השירים ו’:ג’

Ani le-dodi ve-dodi li, ha-ro’eh ba-shoshanim.

-Shir ha-Shirim 6:3

“I belong to my beloved, and he belongs to me, he who pastures his flock among the lilies.”

-Song of Songs 6:3

This is one of the more famous Hebrew Biblical quotes from the seminal love song known as Song of Songs or Song of Solomon. The theme of שושנים (shoshanim), or “lilies” (sometimes translated as “roses”), is recurrent in this work. A flower surrounded by sharp thorns serves to emphasize the contrast of beauty versus pain, as well as the fragility of love and perhaps the care we must show in how we treat our beloved.

3. Quotes About Time

Sun Dial

Though it’s often said that time is an illusion, it certainly is a pervasive aspect of life and a common theme in literature and art the world over. Hebrew culture is no exception. Here are a couple of Hebrew quotes about time.

7. גדול הוא האומץ לחכות מן האומץ לשפוך את הלב.

-נתן זך, “גדול הוא האומץ לחכות”

Gadol hu ha-ometz lekhakot min ha-ometz lishpokh et ha-lev.

-Natan Zakh, “Gadol Hu ha-Ometz Lekhakot”

“Greater is the courage to wait than the courage to spill one’s heart out.”

-Natan Zach, Greater is the Courage to Wait

This quote speaks on both the difficulty and the importance of holding out for the right moment rather than jumping the gun. The quote focuses specifically on the value of holding one’s tongue and speaking in the most opportune moment, rather than saying too much too soon. Of course, one can also apply these words to broader contexts.

8. לבל יהי יומי עליי כתמול שלשום. לבל יהי עליי יומי הרגל.”

-לאה גולדברג, “למדני אלוהי”

Leval yehi yomi alay ke-tmol shilshom. Leval yehi alay yomi hergel.

-Le’ah Goldberg, “Lamdeni Elohay”

“Lest my day be for me as yesterday or the day before. Lest my day be a habit to me.”

-Leah Goldberg, Teach Me, My Lord

This quote, from a poem by one of Israel’s most renowned poets, speaks on the importance of seeing each day with open eyes, renewing our energy, and making each day count. Here, in the form of a prayer, the poet asks God to help her avoid falling into a dull and repetitive routine so that she can remain engaged and excited about life each day.

4. Quotes About Work

Farmer Plowing

Jews are well-known the world over for being hard workers. Indeed, the image of the חלוצים (khalutzim), or “pioneers,” who drained the swamps, planted the forests, and generally built a flourishing country out of deserts and wastelands is deeply ingrained in the Israeli psyche. These pioneers are regarded as the nation’s early heroes. On that note, let’s now have a look at some Hebrew language quotes about work.

9. היום קצר והמלאכה מרובה.

-פרקי אבות ב’:ט”ו

Ha-yom katzar ve-ha-melakhah merubah.

-Pirkey Avot 2:15

“The day is short, and the work abounds.”

-Chapters of the Fathers 2:15

This terse quote, attributed to the sage Rabbi Tarfon, is another gem from Chapters of the Fathers. In an inimitable style, it encompasses the notion that time is short but the labor before us is great, such that we must take advantage of the time we have to get things done before it’s too late. A rough parallel in English might be: “Make hay while the sun shines.”

10. העבודה הראשונה העומדת עתה לפני האנושות היא עבודה של חינוך עצמי.

א.ד. גורדון, “האדם והטבע”

Ha-’avodah ha-rishonah ha-’omedet ‘atah lifney ha-enoshut hi ‘avodah shel khinukh ‘atzmi.

-A.D. Gordon, “Ha-Adam ve-ha-Teva’”

“The first order of business facing humanity today is that of self-education.”

-A.D. Gordon, Man and Nature

This wonderful quote comes from A.D. Gordon, a חלוץ (khalutz), or “pioneer,” who moved to the Land of Israel at an advanced age to live on a kibbutz. He was somewhat akin to an Israeli Henry David Thoreau, emphasizing in his writings the importance of doing an honest day’s work (particularly in terms of agriculture), living in harmony with nature, and, as this quote reflects, ensuring one’s own self-education through life experience.

5. Quotes About Family and Friendship

Siblings

Now let’s look at a theme of universal importance, namely that of family and friends. Here are some choice Hebrew quotes about family and friendship for you to ponder.

11. אני ואתה נשנה את העולם. אני ואתה, אז יבואו כבר כולם.

אריק איינשטיין, “אני ואתה”

Ani ve-atah neshaneh et ha-’olam. Ani ve-atah, az yavo’u kvar kulam.

-Arik Aynshteyn, “Ani ve-Atah”

“You and I, we’ll change the world. You and I, the rest will soon follow.”

-Arik Einstein, You and I

This is a lovely quote from iconic Israeli singer-songwriter and actor Arik Einstein. It speaks of the eternal hope of changing the world for the better, something that’s possible as long as we have just one person we can count on. The song doesn’t specify if the other person is family or a friend, but it clearly speaks of someone with whom there is a strong bond.

12. לא טוב היות האדם לבדו.

-בראשית ב’:י”ח

Lo tov heyot ha-adam levado.

-Bereyshit 2:18

“It is not good for man to be alone.”

-Genesis 2:18

This is, interestingly, the first piece of advice God offers Man in the creation story found in Genesis. God speaks these words to Adam just before informing him that He will create a partner for him (namely, Eve).

13. כשתשאל על אדם, שאל מי רעהו.

-רבי שלמה אבן גבירול, “מבחר הפנינים”

Ke-she-tish’al ‘al adam, she’al mi re’ehu.

-Rabi Shlomoh ibn Gabirol, “Mivkhar Pninim”

“Should you ask about a man, ask who his friends are.”

-Rabbi Solomon ibn Gabirol, Choice Pearls

This pearl of wisdom comes from a brilliant eleventh century poet and scholar whose influence on Hebrew culture has been profound over the centuries. Here, he eloquently expresses the notion that we are to be judged not only for our own merits and faults, but for those of the people with whom we choose to associate.

6. Quotes About Wisdom and Foolishness

Human Head and Brain

The theme of wisdom versus foolishness is a common one throughout Hebrew literature of every era, such that there are seemingly endless quotations to draw on in this category. Let’s have a look at a few popular Hebrew quotes that touch on this topic.

14. זו שסיימה בית ספר יתר על המידה, שהוציאה את כל השפה על נסיונות. תחת חלון על השלחן מנחת תעודה: ‘עברה את כשלונותיה’.

נורית זרחי, “שיעורי העונות”

Zu she-siymah beyt sefer yeter ‘al ha-midah, she-hotzi’ah et kol ha-safah ‘al nisyonot. Takhat khalon ‘al ha-shulkhan munakhat te’udah: ‘’Avrah et kishlonoteyhah.’

-Nurit Zarkhi, “Shi’urey ha-’Onot”

“She who finished school and then some, who spent all her language on experience. Beneath a window on the table lies a diploma: ‘She passed her failures’.”

-Nurit Zarchi, Seasons’ Lessons

This quote, from Israeli poet Nurit Zarchi, may be considered a parallel to Mark Twain’s famous quip, “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” Both authors draw our attention to the fact that there is much wisdom to be gleaned outside the confines of the classroom. In Zarchi’s case, she focuses specifically on the need to go through hardships—to fall and pick oneself up again—in order to fully “graduate.” This is more or less what we mean when we refer to the School of Hard Knocks in English.

15. מן המקום שבו אנו צודקים לא יצמחו לעולם פרחים באביב‭.

-יהודה עמיחי, “המקום שבו אנו צודקים”

Min ha-makom she-bo anu tzodkim lo yitzmekhu le-’olam prakhim ba-Aviv.

-Yehudah ‘Amikhay, “Ha-Makom she-Bo Anu Tzodkim”

“From the place where we are right, no flowers will ever bloom in spring.”

-Yehuda Amichai, The Place Where We Are Right

This is a particularly apt poem for Israel, considering the endless polemics wrapped up in the Israeli reality over so many different things, including existence itself. Here, soldier-turned-poet Yehuda Amichai, widely considered modern Israel’s most important poet, poignantly reminds us that excessive insistence on being right very often comes at the expense of growth and peace.

16. אין שכל, אין דאגות.

-עממי

Eyn sekhel, eyn de’agot.

-’Amami

“No brains, no worries.”

-Popular saying

This one, though not attributed to any particular author, is a very common saying in Israel. The gist of it is that people who think less worry less, much like the English saying, “Ignorance is bliss.” In the Hebrew version, this is both a blessing and a curse. People who enjoy the tranquility of ignorance are also often unaware of problems, even when such awareness might be to their benefit or when their ignorance may affect others negatively.

7. Quotes About Food and Drink

Set Table

Anyone who knows the first thing about Judaism knows that food and drink are a central theme in our culture. In fact, there’s even a popular dark joke in Israel, according to which all Jewish holidays can be classified as either feast days to celebrate the Jewish people surviving an attempted massacre, or fast days to commemorate the Jewish people falling victim to such a massacre. Let’s look at some representative quotes in the Hebrew language on food and drink.

17. על טעם וריח אין להתווכח‎.

-אברהם שלונסקי

‘Al ta’am ve-reyakh eyn lehitvake’akh.

-Avraham Shlonski

“One should not argue over taste and smell.”

-Avraham Shlonsky

This aphorism is a fairly ubiquitous one in Israeli life, and is something like a combination of the English sayings, “There is no accounting for taste,” and “To each his own.” Ironically (or perhaps not!), Israelis love to argue about food, drink, and other matters of taste. An altogether common conversation (or argument) topic in Israel, for instance, is where one can get the best hummus; agreement over one particular hummus shop is a rare creature, indeed!

18. למדני את השיר הפשוט של הלחם ופרוס לי חלק משלומך.

-רחל שפירא, “למדני את השיר הפשוט”

Lamdeni et ha-shir ha-pashut shel ha-lekhem u-fros li khelek mi-shlomekha.

-Rakhel Shapira, “Lamdeni et ha-Shir ha-Pashut”

“Teach me the simple song of bread, and slice me a piece of peace.”

This line comes from a beautiful song by poet and songwriter Rachel Shapira, who composed many of the most famous classics in Israeli music. This quote speaks of the importance of appreciating the simpler pleasures of life, such as a humble slice of bread. This sentiment is similar to what Walt Whitman meant when he wrote, “A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.”

19. ויין ישמח לבב אנוש.

-תהלים ק”ד:ט”ו

Ve-yayin yesamakh levav enosh.

Tehilim 104:15

“And wine shall gladden the heart of man.”

Psalms 104:15

This ancient passage from the Book of Psalms is often cited even in modern Hebrew to express, with eloquence and economy, the unique pleasures afforded by wine.

8. Quotes About Happiness and Health

Happy Older Couple

Health and happiness are common themes in Hebrew culture, with connections often being made between the two. Let’s see some good examples of Hebrew quotes about happiness and health. 

20. כי השמחה שלי היא המחאה שלי.

נעמי שמר, “על ראש שמחתי”

Ki ha-simkha sheli hi ha-mekha’ah sheli.

-Na’omi Shemer, “‘Al Rosh Simkhati”

“For my happiness is my protest.”

-Naomi Shemer, My Chiefest Joy

Naomi Shemer, often labeled the “First Lady” of Israeli music, was a prolific singer-songwriter particularly famous for her song ירושלים של זהב (Yerushalayim shel Zahav), meaning “Jerusalem of Gold.” This quote perhaps serves to help explain how Israel, despite the constant strain and strife of daily life under fire, is consistently reported among the happiest countries according to surveys. Not only is happiness a necessary answer to hardship, but a form of peaceful protest against violence.

21. אין עושר כבריאות, ולא נעימות כמו לב הטוב.

-רבי שלמה אבן גבירול, “מבחר הפנינים”

Eyn ‘osher ke-vri’ut, ve-lo ne’imut kmo lev ha-tov.

-Rabi Shlomoh ibn Gabirol, “Mivkhar Pninim

“There is no joy like health, and no pleasure like a heart of goodness.”

-Rabbi Solomon ibn Gabirol, Choice Pearls

Another wonderful quote from ibn Gabirol, this one almost seems to sum up the entirety of life! Indeed, it simply speaks for itself.

22. תוחלת ממשכה מחלה לב ועץ חיים תאוה באה.

-משלי י”ג:י”ב

Tokhelet memushakhah makhalah lev ve-’etz khayim ta’avah ba’ah.

-Mishley 13:12

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a tree of life is a longing fulfilled.”

Proverbs 13:12

This pithy maxim from Proverbs touches on the power of following one’s dreams and ensuring they are realized, rather than waiting too long and letting them fade.

9. Quotes About Language

Dictionary and Key

What better way to end our list of Hebrew quotes than to enjoy some quotes about language itself? Here they are.

23. בארץ הלוהטת הזאת, מילים צריכות להיות צל.

יהודה עמיחי, “שיר אהבה”

Ba-aretz ha-lohetet ha-zot, milim tzrikhot lihiyot tzel.

-Yehudah ‘Amikhay, “Shir Ahavah”

“In this blazing land, words must be shade.”

-Yehuda Amichai, Love Song

This quote speaks of the essential power of language to comfort and shelter us, and how vital that function of language is in a place as infernal as Israel has been.

24. מות וחיים ביד לשון, ואהביה יאכל פריה.

משלי י”ח:כ”א

Mavet ve-khayim be-yad lashon, ve-ohavehah yokhal piryah.

-Mishley 18:21

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

-Proverbs 18:21

This passage from Proverbs speaks of the power of language for both good and evil. It also sheds light on the fact that those who truly love language and use it wisely will reap the benefit from their own words accordingly.

25. לעזאזל השיר וכל אשר בו. אני צריכה 120 שקל חדש בחשבון אחרון.

-דליה רביקוביץ, “פרנסה”

La-’Azazel ha-shir ve-khol asher bo. Ani tzrikhah me’ah-’esrim shekel khadsh be-kheshbon akharon.

-Daliyah Ravikovitz, “Parnasah”

“To hell with poetry and everything that goes with it. I need 120 new Israeli shekels, when all is said and done.”

-Dalia Ravikovitch, Livelihood

To end on a lighter note, here’s a quote that captures the sardonic use of language so typical of much Israeli humor. Here, a writer ironically mocks her own craft, at once affirming (through the very fact of having written these lines) and dismissing (through the content of the lines) the art of poetry.

10. Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed our compilation of Hebrew quotes! Remember that learning Hebrew doesn’t just mean learning grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation—it also means tapping into an entire culture, rich in wisdom gleaned over millennia of reflection. As you can now attest to, much of this wisdom is captured in the vast Hebrew library of literary works, both old and new. In that vein, which of these Hebrew quotes was your favorite, and why?

We at HebrewPod101 are convinced that learning a language is as much a cultural endeavor as it is a linguistic one, and we hope today’s lesson has enriched your understanding of Hebrew from a new perspective. Check out our wealth of resources on many other aspects of Jewish and Israeli culture to learn even more. When you learn Hebrew with HebrewPod101, you’ll always be prepared to say the right thing at the right time!

Shalom!

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Take Care of Business with Hebrew Business Phrases

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In Israel, business is booming. It’s well-known that Israel is one of the most advanced and dynamic economies the world over. The country has, in fact, been dubbed the Startup Nation for the immense number of businesses launched in or from Israel. Having only sparse natural resources, Israel has, since its inception, wisely invested in its human resource through extensive research and development. In particular, Israel is a world leader in technology pertaining to communications, computers, aviation, the military, agriculture, and medicine, among many other sectors.

Amazingly, Israel has more companies listed on NASDAQ than any other country, except the U.S. and China! So, if you’re planning on doing business with Israelis or in Israel, it’s wise to prepare; Israeli businesspeople are no slouches when it comes to making a deal! With that in mind, there’s no better way to simultaneously make a good impression and position yourself for a favorable outcome than to arm yourself with a handy toolkit of Hebrew business words and phrases.

Like any language, Hebrew has its own lingo for conducting business. In today’s lesson, we’ll look at essential words and phrases for interviewing for a job, interacting with coworkers, impressing at business meetings, and fielding business-related phone calls and emails. So, get your pencils sharpened and your coffee ready to go, and let’s get to work!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Business Words and Phrases in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Nailing a Job Interview
  2. Interacting with Coworkers
  3. Sounding Smart in Meetings
  4. Handling Business Phone Calls and Emails
  5. Let HebrewPod101 Get You Ready for Business

1. Nailing a Job Interview

Man In Suit Covering Face with @ Sign

If you’re planning on working for Israelis, it’s essential that you’re able to get your foot in the door. The first step is, of course, the oft-dreaded job interview. To make matters more intense, the Israeli business world is extremely competitive, as Israel is a small country filled with highly qualified people. (In fact, Israel’s citizens are the third-most educated in the world, after those in Canada and Japan!)

To ensure you give yourself a competitive edge, you’ll need to impress your prospective employer with your command of business Hebrew phrases. In this section, we’ll talk about how to introduce yourself, elaborate on your professional background, and respond to any questions the employer may have for you. 

Let’s have a look at some of the key words and phrases for nailing a job interview in Hebrew.

1. Introducing Yourself

Businesspeople Shaking Hands

You obviously want to start with a greeting. Here are the two most common ways to say hello in Hebrew.

a. שלום
Shalom
“Hello”

שלום (shalom), which literally means “peace,” is the most classic greeting in Hebrew. It also has the advantages of being appropriate in any situation, whether formal or informal, and not requiring any verb conjugations or gender-specific words. This makes it an easy-to-use greeting that will definitely be appropriate for your job interview.

b. היי
Hay
“Hi”

You can also use this less-formal greeting in a pinch. Next, let’s look at how to provide your name.

2. Self-Introduction

If you’re meeting someone for the first time, it’s customary to offer your name, and to ask for the other person’s name. We covered this topic in depth in our article about introductions, but here are the basic elements:

c. אני
Ani
“I [am]”

d. שמי
Shmi
“My name [is]”

e. השם שלי הוא
Ha-shem sheli hu
“My name is”

f. קוראים לי
Kor’im li
“I am called/named”

For example:

  • שלום, שמי דניאל.
    Shalom, shmi Dani’el.
    “Hello, my name is Daniel.”
  • היי, קוראים לי מישל.
    Hay, kor’im li Mishel.
    “Hi, I am named Michelle.”

Remember, none of these require any conjugation, so just practice until you memorize them, and you’re good to go!

3. Talking About Professional Experience

Different Occupations

There are some business terms in Hebrew that you should know to talk about your professional experience. These include key verbs and phrases to describe your studies, previous employment, and job duties. Let’s have a look.

a. למדתי
Lamadeti
“I studied/learned”

This is a very useful verb for describing things you’ve learned, whether at an institution of higher learning, on the job, or otherwise.

  • למדתי הנדסה חמש שנים.
    Lamadeti handasah khamesh shanim.
    I studied engineering for five years.”
  • למדתי עבודה בצוות בעבודה הקודמת שלי.
    Lamadeti avodah be-tzevet ba-avodah ha-kodemet sheli.
    I learned teamwork at my previous job.”
  • למדתי לתואר שני במנהל עסקים באוניברסיטת שיקגו.
    Lamadeti le-to’ar sheni be-minhal asakim be-universitat Shikago.
    I studied for my Masters degree in business management at the University of Chicago.”

b. יש לי
Yesh li
“I have”

You may have learned that Hebrew has no verb for “to have” and instead uses the form יש לי (yesh li), which is literally equivalent to, “There is/are to me.” We can use this phrase to describe experience, credentials, and more. Here are some examples:

  • יש לי תואר בחשבונאות.
    Yesh li to’ar be-kheshbona’ut.
    I have a degree in accounting.”
  • יש לי תעודה בתכנות JAVA.
    Yesh li te’udah be-tikhnut JAVA.
    I have a certificate in Java programming.”
  • יש לי הרבה ניסיון בשירות מול לקוחות.
    Yesh li harbeh nisayon be-sheyrut mul lekokhot.
    I have a lot of experience in customer service.”

c. התמחיתי ב ___.
Hitmakheti be ___.
“I specialized in ___.”

  • התמחיתי במיזוגים ורכישות בתפקיד הקודם שלי.
    Hitmakheyti be-mizugim ve-rekhishot ba-tafkid ha-kodem sheli.
    I specialized in mergers and acquisitions in my previous job.”
  • התמחיתי בפיתוח שווקים במסגרת התואר השני שלי.
    Hitmakheyti be-fitu’akh shvakim be-misgeret ha-to’ar ha-sheni sheli.
    I specialized in market development during my Master’s studies.”

4. Asking the Interviewer to Repeat His/Her Question

During the course of an interview, you may find yourself unsure of what you’ve been asked, or needing clarity for some other reason. In such a case, there’s nothing wrong with politely asking the interviewer to repeat a question. Let’s see how to do so.

  • האם תוכל/תוכלי לחזור על השאלה, בבקשה?
    Ha’im tukhal/tukhli lakhzor al ha-she’elah be-vakashah?
    “Could you repeat the question, please?”

5. Thanking the Interviewer for the Opportunity

Thank You Written Out

At the conclusion of a job interview, it’s considered polite—and therefore, in your interest—to thank the interviewer for taking the time to interview you and for the opportunity to present your candidacy for the position. Let’s see how to do that in Hebrew.

  • תודה על ההזדמנות.
    Todah al ha-hizdamnut.
    “Thank you for the opportunity.”

6. Closing the Interview

Lastly, it’s a good idea to express your enthusiasm for the job. Here are a couple of good ways to do so.

a. אשמח להיות בקשר.
Esmakh lihiot be-kesher.
“I look forward to being in touch.”

b. אני מְקַוֶּה/מְקַוָּה להיות בקשר.
Ani mekaveh/mekavah lehiyot be-kesher.
“I hope to be in touch.”

*Note the need to properly conjugate the last one, depending on your gender!

2. Interacting with Coworkers

Now, let’s assume you got the job you interviewed for, and are looking to build some rapport with your coworkers. In the following section, we’ll take a look at a number of important Hebrew business phrases for communicating with your colleagues.

1. Asking Someone’s Name

Girl with Question Mark Covering Face

The easiest way to ask for the other person’s name, assuming they haven’t shared it with you on their own (though many Israelis will give their name without needing to be asked), is to use the verb לקרוא (likro). This is the same form we just looked at for stating your own name, but this time we’ll be using it in question form.

The good news is that we only need to conjugate one word; in this case, it’s the second person pronoun “you.” Specifically, if we’re talking to a male, we ask, איך קוראים לְךָ? (Eich korim lekha?), while if speaking to a female, we ask, איך קוראים לָךְ? (Eich kor’im lakh?).

  • איך קוראים לְךָ/לָךְ?
    Eikh korim lekha/lakh?
    “What is your name?”

Here are some ways you could respond after getting their name.

a. נעים מאוד.
Naim me’od.
“Nice to meet you.”

b. נעים להכיר.
Na’im lehakir.
“Nice to meet you.”

2. Asking Others for Help

Hands Reaching Out

Especially if you’re new to a job, you may well find yourself in need of a bit of help, whether it’s to get the copier working or to find the nearest takeout joint for lunch. Here are the most common ways to ask for help. Pay attention to gender and how it changes the verb’s conjugation.

  • סליחה, האם תוכל/תוכלי לעזור לי?
    Slikha, ha’im tukhal/tukhli la’azor li?
    “Excuse me, could you possibly help me?”
  • סליחה, אפשר לבקש מִמְּךָ/מִמֵּךְ עזרה?
    Slikha, efshar levakesh mimkha/mimekh ezrah?
    “Excuse me, could I ask you for some help?”
  • סליחה, אפשר לשאול אוֹתְךָ/אוֹתָךְ שאלה?
    Slikha, efshar lish’ol otkha/otakh she’elah?
    “Excuse me, could I ask you a question?”

3. Apologizing

Woman Apologizing

Although obviously something you want to avoid, you may also find yourself in need of apologizing if, say, you jam up the printer or unwittingly take someone’s parking spot. Here are the most common phrases related to saying sorry in Israel, though keep in mind that Israelis aren’t typically very touchy about small stuff.

a. סליחה.
Slikha.
“Sorry.” / “Excuse me.”

b. אני מבקש/מבקשת סליחה.
Ani mevakesh/mevakeshet slikha.
“I have to apologize.”

c. עשיתי טעות.
Asiti ta’ut.
“I made a mistake.”

d. טעות שלי.
Ta’ut sheli.
Mea culpa. / “My bad.”

4. Saying Thank You

This one is pretty straightforward. There are certainly many situations in which you may find yourself wanting to say thank you. Let’s look at a number of constructs using the word תודה (todah), or “thanks.”

a. תודה על + noun
Todah al + noun
“Thanks for” + noun

  • תודה על העזרה.
    Todah al ha-ezrah.
    Thanks for the help.”
  • תודה על הטיפ.
    Todah al ha-tip.
    Thanks for the tip.”

b. תודה ש… + verb
Todah she… + verb
“Thanks for” + verb

  • תודה שעזרת לי.
    Todah she-azart li.
    Thanks for helping me.”
  • תודה שהראית לי איפה לחנות.
    Todah she-herayta li eyfoh likhnot.
    Thanks for showing me where to park.”

*Note the need to conjugate the verb with the correct gender and count here.

You can also intensify your thanks. Here are a few common ways to do so:

c. תודה רבה.
Todah rabah.
“Thank you very much.”

d. המון תודה.
Hamon todah.
“Thanks a ton.”

5. Inviting Coworkers Out After Work

If you’re looking for ways to form positive relationships with your coworkers, you should consider inviting them to join you in after-work activities. In this section, we’ll look at a couple of ways you can do this.

a. בא לְךָ/לָךְ לצאת אחרי העבודה?
Ba lekha/lakh latzet akharey ha-avodah?
“Do you feel like going out after work?”

b. אפשר להזמין אוֹתְךָ/אוֹתָךְ לצאת אחרי העבודה?
Efshar lehazmin otkha/otakh latzet akharey ha-avodah?
“Can I invite you to go out after work?”

3. Sounding Smart in Meetings

Many workplaces have meetings, and you may well be asked to participate in them. Therefore, it’s a good idea to equip yourself with some basic Hebrew for business meetings so you’re prepared to not only speak, but to impress, in such situations. Let’s have a look at a few key phrases that can help you sound smart in meetings.

1. Giving Your Opinion

Woman Speaking at Meeting

Let’s start with some phrases you can use to effectively express your opinions during a meeting.

a. אני חושב/חושבת ש ___.
Ani khoshev/khoshevet she ___.
“I think that ___.”

  • אני חושב שהמספרים לא משקפים את המציאות.
    Ani khoshev she-ha-misparim lo meshakfim et ha-metzi’ut.
    I think that the numbers do not reflect the reality.”
  • אני חושבת שדני צודק.
    Ani khoshevet she-Dani tzodek.
    I think that Danny is right.”

b. לדעתי ___.
Le-da’ati ___.
“In my opinion ___.”

  • לדעתי, אנחנו צריכים להשקיע בציוד חדש.
    Le-da’ati, anakhnu tzrikhim lehashki’a be-tziyud khadsh.
    In my opinion, we need to invest in new equipment.”
  • זה לא יהיה מספיק, לדעתי.
    Zeh lo yihiyeh maspik, le-da’ati.
    “That won’t suffice, in my opinion.”

c. אני סבור/סבורה ש ___.
Ani savur/svurah she ___.
“I am of the opinion that ___.”

  • אני סבורה שאנו מוכנים לפגישה עם הלקוח החדש.
    Ani svurah she-anu mukhanim la-pegishah im ha-lako’akh he-khadash.
    I am of the opinion that we are ready for the meeting with the new client.”
  • אני סבור שהדולר יתחזק.
    Ani savur she-ha-dolar yitkhazek.
    I am of the opinion that the dollar is going to strengthen.”

2. Making Suggestions

While making suggestions is a crucial part of business meeting engagement, in Israeli culture, it’s wise to make a polite suggestion rather than a blunt one; you don’t want to risk sounding too aggressive or condescending.

a. אני מציע/מציעה ש ___.
Ani metzi’a/metzi’ah she ___.
“I suggest that ___.”

  • אני מציעה שננסה מחדש.
    Ani metzi’ah she-nenaseh mekhadash.
    I suggest that we try again.”
  • אני מציע שנחכה עד לרבעון הבא.
    Ani metzi’a she-nekhakeh ad la-riv’on haba.
    I suggest that we wait until next quarter.”

b. הרעיון שלי הוא ___.
Ha-ra’ayon sheli hu ___.
“My idea is ___.”

  • הרעיון שלי הוא למכור רק למדינות אסייתיות בינתיים.
    Ha-ra’ayon sheli hu limkor rak le-medinot Asiyatiot beynatayim.
    My idea is to sell solely to Asian countries at the moment.”

3. Agreeing and Disagreeing

Woman Giving OK Sign

To successfully negotiate in a business meeting, you must know how to express that you agree or disagree with others. Note that in Hebrew, the structure for many opposing forms is the same, save for the absence or presence of the word לא (lo), meaning “no” / “not,” for negation. This is true for the first two phrases here.

a. אני (לא) מסכים/מסכימה.
Ani (lo) maskim/maskimah.
“I agree/disagree.”

  • אני לא מסכים שאנו צריכים מחשבים חדשים.
    Ani lo maskim she-anu tzrikhim makhshevim khadashim.
    I disagree that we need new computers.”
  • אני מסכימה שהגיע הזמן להיות יותר פרואקטיביים.
    Ani maskimah she-higi’a ha-zman lihiyot yoter proaktiviyim.
    I agree that the time has come to be more proactive.”

b. אני (לא) חושב/חושבת כמו ___.
Ani khoshev/khoshevet k’mo ___.
“I am of a like mind with ___.”

  • אני חושב כמו בני.
    Ani khoshev k’mo Beni.
    “I am of a like mind with Benny.”
  • אני חושבת כמו עמיתי לעבודה כאן.
    Ani khoshevet k’mo amiti la-avodah kan.
    “I am of a like mind with my coworker here.”

c. אני חולק/חולקת על דַּעְתְּךָ/דַּעְתֵּךְ.
Ani kholek/kholeket al da’etkha/da’etekh.
“I differ with you.”

*Note that the last form is a bit more formal and emphatic.

4. Responding to Others

To close this category, let’s look at some ways you can politely and professionally open a response to something another person said. These are a bit formal, especially in Israeli society where niceties are not terribly common. Nevertheless, when used correctly, they can effectively get people’s attention and lend an air of seriousness to your comments.

a. בנוגע למה ש ___ אמר/אמרה ___.
Be-noge’a le-mah she___ amar/amrah ___.
“Regarding what ___ said ___.”

  • בנוגע למה ששרון אמרה, אני חושב שיש לחכות קצת לפני שנשיק מוצרים חדשים.
    Be-noge’a le-mah she-Sharon amrah, ani khoshev she-yesh lekhakot ktzat lifney she-nashik motzarim khadashim.
    Regarding what Sharon said, I think we need to wait a bit before launching new products.”
  • בנוגע למה ששמוליק אמר, זה נדמה לי קצת מרחיק לכת.
    Be-noge’a le-mah she-Shmulik amar, zeh nidmeh li ktzat markhik lekhet.
    Regarding what Shmulik said, it strikes me as a bit far-fetched.”

b. הייתי רוֹצֶה/רוֹצָה להגיב למילים של ___.
Hayiti rotzeh/rotzah lehagiv la-d’varim shel ___.
“I would like to respond to ___’s comments.

  • הייתי רוצה להגיב לדברים של רם. אני חושבת שהוא צודק אבל יש עוד כמה נושאים רלוונטיים כאן.
    Hayiti rotzah lehagiv la-d’varim shel Ram. Ani khoshevet she-hu tzodek aval yesh od kamah nos’im relevantiyim kan.
    I would like to respond to Ram’s comments. I think he is right, but there are a few other relevant issues here.”
  • כמנהל המחלקה, הייתי רוצה להגיב לדברים של תומר ומיכל.
    Ke-menahel ha-makhlakah, hayiti rotzeh lehagiv la-d’varim shel Tomer ve-Mikhal.
    “As department head, I would like to respond to Tomer’s and Michal’s comments.”

c. התרשמתי ממה ש ___ אמר/אמרה.
Hitrashamti mi-mah she-amar/amrah ___.
“I was impressed by what ___ said.”

  • התרשמתי ממה שאמר דימה, ואני לגמרי בעד הרעיון שלו.
    Hitrashamti mi-mah she-amar Dimah, va-ani legamrey be’ad ha-ra’ayon shelo.
    I was impressed by what Dimah said, and I am completely in favor of his idea.”
  • למען האמת, די התרשמתי ממה שאסנת אמרה.
    Le-ma’an ha-emet, dey hitrashamti mi-mah she-Osnat amrah.
    “To be honest, I was pretty impressed by what Osnat said.”

4. Handling Business Phone Calls and Emails

Finally, we’re going to look at Hebrew business words and phrases for handling phone calls and emails, both of which are a part of many jobs. 

1. Business Phone Calls

Woman on Phone

a. Answering the phone

  • שלום, מדבר/מדברת ___.
    Shalom, medaber/medaberet ___.
    “Hello, this is ___ speaking.”
  • שלום, מדבר אלון רוט.
    Shalom, medaber Alon Rot.
    Hello, this is Alon Roth speaking.”
  • שלום, מדברת רוני אזולאי.
    Shalom, medaberet Roni Azulay.
    Hello, this is Roni Azulai speaking.”
  • הִגַּעְתָּ/הִגַּעְתְּ ל ___.
    Higata/Higa’t le/la ___.
    “You have reached ___.”
  • הִגַּעְתָּ למשרד של איתי ריבלין.
    Higata la-misrad shel Itay Rivlin.
    You have reached the office of Itai Rivlin.”
  • הִגַּעְתְּ למעבדת מיקרו-מק.
    Higat le-Ma’abadat Mikro-Mak.
    You have reached Micro Mac Laboratories.”

b. Offering to help

  • במה אוכל לעזור לְךָ/לָךְ?
    Ba-meh ukhal la’azor lekha/lakh?
    “How can I help you?”
  • לאן להעביר את שִׂיחָתְךָ/שִׂיחָתֵךְ?
    Le’an leha’avir et sikhatkha/sikhatekh?
    “How may I direct your call?”

c. Signing off

  • שמחתי לעזור.
    Samakhti la’azor.
    “I was happy to help.”
  • אנחנו נהיה בקשר.
    Anakhnu nihiyeh be-kesher.
    “We will be in touch.”
  • אל תהסס/תהססי להתקשר.
    Al tehases/tehasesi lehitkasher.
    “Don’t hesitate to call.”
  • אנחנו עומדים לְשֵׁרוּתְךָ/לְשֵׁרוּתֵךְ.
    Anakhnu omdim le-sherutkha/sherutekh.
    “We are at your service.”

2. Business Emails

Man Writing Email

The art of writing an effective business email, or any type of letter for that matter, is clearly a topic unto itself. It’s certainly a skillset worth developing, but a bit much to cover in today’s lesson. For today’s discussion, then, let’s limit ourselves to some key words and phrases you can use when drafting business emails.

a. לכל מאן דבעי
Le-khol man dab’i
“To Whom It May Concern”

b. אג”ן (אדון, גברת נכבדים)
AG”N (Adon, Geveret nekhbadim)
“Dear Mr./Mrs.”

c. בתגובה לְבַקָּשָׁתְךָ/לְבַקָּשָׁתֵךְ
Be-teguvah le-vakashatkha/le-vakashatekh
“In response to your request”

d. מצ”ב (מצורף בזה)
MTz”B (Metzoraf ba-zeh)
“Enclosed”

e. בברכה
Bi-vrakhah
“Sincerely”

f. נ”ב (נכתב בצד)
N”B (Nikhtav ba-tzad)
“P.S.”

5. Let HebrewPod101 Get You Ready for Business

We hope you enjoyed today’s lesson. It goes without saying that preparing yourself to do business and/or work in a foreign culture is a complex endeavor. However, with some essential vocabulary under your belt, you’ve already got the ball rolling. Practice these phrases, as well as any relevant grammatical or lexical points, and build the confidence you need to succeed working or doing business in Israel.

Is there a related topic we didn’t cover, or are you still unclear about something we did discuss? We at HebrewPod101 love hearing from you so that we can custom-tailor our lessons to your needs. Get in touch today, and let us know how we’re doing! In the meantime, Shalom!

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The Top 10 Ways to Say Goodbye in Hebrew

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Knowing how to say goodbye is a key skill in any language. In Hebrew, as in most languages, the way we say goodbye depends on a number of factors, such as the particular situation we’re in, the person or people we’re addressing, and the time of day. Just as it’s crucial to leave a good first impression by saying hello and introducing yourself, it’s equally important to leave a good last impression by taking your leave in a manner suitable to the circumstances. Farewells are precisely the opportunity to do so; correctly using Hebrew goodbye phrases will show that you’re sensitive to the nuances of the language and culture.

In this article, we’ll look at the top ten ways to say goodbye in Hebrew. We’ll cover day-to-day goodbyes, goodbyes for different times of day, and goodbyes to be used in specific situations. By the end of today’s lesson, you should be well-equipped to say adieu to Hebrew-speakers in a number of the most common everyday situations. Start with a bonus, and download the Must-Know Beginner Vocabulary PDF for FREE!(Logged-In Member Only)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. The Most Common Ways to Say Goodbye
  2. Saying Goodbye at Different Times of Day
  3. Ways of Saying Goodbye in Specific Situations
  4. Put Your Best Foot Forward with HebrewPod101

1. The Most Common Ways to Say Goodbye

Most Common Goodbyes

First, let’s have a look at the most common ways to say goodbye. Each word and phrase listed here is pretty versatile, though they do vary in terms of their respective levels of formality. One of the great things about these expressions is that you don’t need to conjugate or modify them depending on the person or people you’re talking to. Each one is ready to go as-is!

You’ll notice that the first Hebrew word for goodbye here is just taken à la carte from English. While it could be considered slang, it’s so commonly used by now (as is the greeting “Hi”) that you can use it in any casual setting without fear.

    1. ביי
    Bay
    “Bye”

As mentioned, this one is pretty much a catchall. Because this word is obviously “borrowed,” it’s important to note that Israelis pronounce it slightly differently than English-speakers do, elongating the diphthong (or mixed vowel sound). Also note that, in Hebrew, we use “bye” but not “goodbye.” For example:

    היה לי ממש כיף היום. ביי!
    Hayah li mamash keyf hayom. Bay!
    “I had a really good time today. Bye!”
    תודה שבאתם לבקר. ביי!
    Todah she-batem levaker. Bay!
    “Thanks for coming to visit. Bye!”
    2. להתראות
    Lehitra’ot
    “See you (later).”

When it comes to saying goodbye in Hebrew, lehitra’ot is perhaps the most common expression. It’s literally just the unconjugated (infinitive) reflexive verb that means “to see one another.” You can use it in pretty much any situation.

    שיהיה לכם יום נעים. להתראות!
    She-yihiyeh lakhem yom na’im. Lehitra’ot!
    “Have a nice day. See you!”
    להתראות! אל תשכח להתקשר.
    Lehitra’ot! Al tishkakh lehitkasher.
    “See you later! Don’t forget to call.”
    3. שלום, שלום
    Shalom shalom
    “Farewell.” (Literally: “Peace, peace.”)

This one is a bit more old-fashioned, and it’s more commonly used among older generations. However, it’s still a perfectly acceptable way of saying goodbye, even among younger folks, albeit a bit more formal. Note that we typically use a single “Shalom” for greeting and two for a farewell.

    תודה על הארוחה הטעימה, סבתא. שלום, שלום!
    Todah ‘al ha-arukhah ha-te’imah, Savtah. Shalom, shalom!
    “Thank you for the delicious meal, Grandma. Farewell!”
    שלום, שלום! ד”ש חמה להורים שלך.
    Shalom, shalom! Dash khamah la-horim shelkha.
    “Farewell! Warm regards to your parents.”

2. Saying Goodbye at Different Times of Day

Sundial

We can also say goodbye by referencing the time of day or night. Don’t get too caught up on the precise time of day here. Just keep in mind that, like in English, we generally have different greetings for people depending on whether it’s morning (before noon), afternoon (after noon, but while it’s still light out), evening (dark out, but still not very late), or night.

Also note that in some cases, there’s some variation between how we use time references in greetings versus how we use them in farewells. For example, we usually say בוקר טוב (Boker tov), or “Good morning,” as a form of salutation, but we don’t typically use it as a farewell. 

Below is an appropriate farewell to use any time in the morning (i.e. before noon).

    4. יום טוב
    Yom tov
    “[Have] a nice day.”
    תודה על הייעוץ, דוקטור. יום טוב!
    Todah ‘al ha-ye’utz, Doktor. Yom tov!
    “Thank you for the advice, Doctor. Have a nice day!”
    יום טוב לך, גבירתי. התחדשי על הכובע החדש.
    Yom tov lakh, gvirti. Hitkhadshi ‘al ha-kova’ he-khadash.
    “Have a nice day, ma’am. Enjoy the new hat.”

The next Hebrew goodbye is used in the afternoon (after twelve o’clock noon, but before it gets dark). Note that the word for “afternoon” is plural, and conjugated accordingly. So, the word “good” will be טובים (tovim), and not טוב (tov).

    5. צהריים טובים
    Tzohorayim tovim
    “[Have a] good afternoon.”
     תודה על הקפה. היה כיף לראות אותך, אבל אני חייב לחזור לעבודה. צהריים טובים!
    Todah ‘al ha-kafeh. Hayah keyf lir’ot otakh, aval ani khayav lakhzor la-’avodah. Tzohorayim tovim!
    “Thanks for the coffee. It was nice seeing you, but I have to get back to work. Have a good afternoon!”
    צהריים טובים. כבר אכלתם?
    Tzohorayim tovim. Kvar akhaltem?
    “Good afternoon. Did you eat yet?”

Once the sun starts going down, but before around nine or ten o’clock, we can use the following phrase to say goodbye.

    6. ערב טוב
    ‘Erev tov
    “[Have a] good evening.”
    נהיה כבר מאוחר ובעלי בטח מחכה לי בבית. ערב טוב!
    Neheyah kvar me’ukhar u-va’ali betakh mekhakeh li ba-bayit. ‘Erev tov!
    It’s late already, and my husband is surely waiting for me at home. Have a good evening!”
    ערב טוב. כנסו בבקשה, ארוחת הערב כבר מוכנה.
    ‘Erev tov. Kansu be-vakashah, arukhat ha-’erev kvar mukhanah.
    “Good evening. Please, come in. Dinner is ready.”

This last phrase should be reserved for the later hours of the day, typically after nine or ten o’clock.

    7. לילה טוב
      Laylah tov
      “Goodnight.”
    אני ממש עייף, אז אני אלך לישון. לילה טוב! נתראה בבוקר.
    Ani mamash ayef, az ani elekh lishon. Laylah tov! Nitra’eh ba-boker.
    “I’m really tired, so I’m going to go to bed. Goodnight! See you in the morning.”
    לילה טוב. היזהר בכבישים! יורד גשם.
    Laylah tov. Hizaher ba-kvishim! Yored geshem.
    “Goodnight. Be careful on the road. It’s raining.”

Ways of Saying Goodbye in Specific Situations

Shaking Hands at Business Meeting

For our final category, let’s look at some common ways of saying goodbye in Hebrew that are particular to specific situations. Be careful not to use these as liberally as those in our first category; you should only use them when the situation warrants it. It’s worth mentioning that there are many more condition-specific forms of goodbye than those listed here, but these are the most common ones.

The first farewell is used whenever we’re sending someone off on a journey. For example, when we’re taking someone to the airport to go on a trip to another country, or as that person is getting into their car to drive home.

Woman Waving from Train
    8. נסיעה טובה
    Nesi’ah tovah
    “[Have a] nice trip.”
    נסיעה טובה! אני מקווה שתהנו באמסטרדם!
    Nesi’ah tovah! Ani mekaveh she-tehanu be-Amsterdam!
    “Have a nice trip! I hope you have fun in Amsterdam!”
    רוץ מהר שלא יסעו בלעדיך. נסיעה טובה!
    Rutz maher she-lo yis’u bil’adekha. Nesi’ah tovah!
    “Hurry up now so they don’t leave without you. Have a nice trip!”

The next Hebrew goodbye is for the Sabbath, which, in Judaism, begins Friday at sundown and ends a little after sundown on Saturday (specifically when three stars are visible in the night sky). This is more or less the Jewish equivalent of “Have a nice weekend.” Note that we can use this one as a greeting or a farewell, with no changes. We should also point out that this phrase is not limited to religious speakers or communities, but rather, it’s used by all to refer to what in Israel is the day of rest, separate from the workweek. Incidentally, the Israeli workweek is six days, beginning on Sunday.

Sabbath Challah Bread
    9. שבת שלום
    Shabbat shalom
    “[Have a] peaceful Sabbath.”
    שבת שלום! אני מקווה שתנוחו אחרי שבוע ארוך של עבודה.
    Shabbat shalom! Ani mekavah she-tanukhu akharey shavu’ah arokh shel ‘avodah.
    “Have a peaceful Sabbath! I hope you rest after a long week of work.”
    שבת שלום לכל המשפחה. נתראה ביום ראשון.
    Shabbat shalom le-khol ha-mishpakhah. Nitra’eh be-Yom Rishon.
    “A peaceful Sabbath to all the family. See you on Sunday.”

Our last Hebrew goodbye is used on holidays, whether religious (e.g. Shavuot) or secular (e.g. Independence Day). As you’ll see in the two examples below, this can be used with or without specifying the particular holiday that’s being celebrated. Note that we don’t use this phrase on fast days or other solemn commemorative occasions, such as Yom Ha-Zikaron (Memorial Day).

Israeli Independence Day
    10. חג שמח
    Khag same’akh
    “Happy holidays.” / “Happy [specific holiday].”
    שתהיה לכם אחלה חופשת פסח בצרפת. חג שמח!
    She-tihiyeh lakhem akhlah khufshat Pesakh be-Tzarfat. Khag same’akh!
    “Have a great Passover break in France. Happy holidays!”
    חג פורים שמח! נתראה במסיבה.
    Khag Purim same’akh! Nitra’eh ba-mesibah.
    “Happy Purim! See you at the party.”

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Student with Books Waving Goodbye

We hope you’ve found this lesson helpful, and that you can see how important it is to be prepared for different situations and the specific phrases they call for. There are obviously many other forms of farewell in Hebrew, but you now have a fair cross-section of words and phrases to help you say goodbye in any situation. 

Is there a particular Hebrew goodbye phrase we didn’t cover that you would like to know? Unclear about one of the farewells we did cover? As always, we would love to hear from you with any questions or doubts you may have. Get in touch and let us know how we can help! That’s what we’re here for. 

In the meantime, lehitra’ot!

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Is Hebrew Hard to Learn? (And Why to Learn Anyway.)

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Let’s face it. Hebrew is not the most popular language choice for those seeking to acquire a new one. It’s not as sexy-sounding as, say, French or Spanish. It doesn’t have international status as a lingua franca for culture or commerce. It’s spoken by a mere nine million people worldwide

Yet there are a number of great reasons to make it your next language undertaking. In this article, we’ll answer the question “Is Hebrew hard to learn?” and talk about its simpler and more complex aspects. But first, we’ll show you why you should learn this beautiful language.

The number-one reason is that Hebrew is, quite simply, unique among all languages, and for more than one reason. It’s the language of nearly the entire Old Testament (the Book of Daniel is written in Aramaic, a closely related Semitic language that’s very similar to Hebrew). When God said, “Let there be light,” he said it in Hebrew! So when you learn Hebrew, you’re connecting yourself to a primal part of history. Indeed, the earliest examples of Paleo-Hebrew date back to the tenth century BCE, making Hebrew at least 3,000 years old!

Torah Scroll

Obviously, the Hebrew language has contributed greatly to Western civilization through the vast literary works in the Hebrew language that are part of the Biblical canon. Just as interesting is the fact that Hebrew ceased to be used as a spoken language between the third and fifth centuries. During this time, it was relegated to לשון הקודש (leshon ha-kodesh), or the Language of Holy Matters, used for Bible study, prayer, and religious poetry—but not for everyday communication.

Jewish Prayer Book

It wasn’t until the nineteenth century that Hebrew was revived as a spoken language. In fact, this was achieved through a linguistic enterprise, the likes of which had never been seen before and which has not been replicated since. A number of highly motivated and impressively talented individuals, most prominently Eliezer Ben Yehuda, set about coining Hebrew words to describe the modern world, so removed as it was from the ancient context of Biblical Hebrew.

They began publishing Hebrew dictionaries and periodicals, codifying grammatical rules, putting on Hebrew-language theater productions, founding Hebrew schools and clubs, and generally revitalizing the language as an everyday tongue equal to any other spoken language. In fact, Eliezer Ben Yehuda is credited with raising the first child to speak Hebrew as his native (and at least initially exclusive) tongue, keeping his son Itamar under something like house arrest in his early years so he wouldn’t be exposed to other languages, which he felt might confuse the child.

Today, Hebrew is the State of Israel’s official language. It’s the mother tongue of millions of people, used in newspapers, books, TV programs, movies, music, poetry, food labels, websites, legislation, advertisements, and any other use you can think of for a language. So when you learn and speak it, you’re participating in what could be argued to be the most successful linguistic experiment in history—the revival of a language that had not been spoken for over a thousand years!

What’s more, just as Hebrew is unique among languages, Israel is a country unlike any other. Geographically at the crossroads of three continents—Europe, Asia, and Africa—Israel is a true melting pot of cultures, with immigrants and their descendants from literally all four corners of the globe. It’s also a fascinating meld of ancient culture with cutting-edge modernity. Learning Hebrew gives you direct access to all of this rich diversity, and to a wealth of unique and interesting literature, art, music, cuisine, and people.

Wailing Wall / View of Old Jerusalem

So why should you learn Hebrew? Perhaps the real question is why not?!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Learning Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Is it Hard to Learn Hebrew?
  2. The Hardest and Easiest Aspects of the Hebrew Language
  3. I Want to Learn Hebrew, But Don’t Know Where to Start
  4. What Makes HebrewPod101 Your Partner in Learning Hebrew with Success?

1. Is it Hard to Learn Hebrew?

Confused Looking Student

So you’re interested in the possibility of studying Hebrew, but before you take the plunge, you just have one big question: Is Hebrew hard to learn? This question is easier asked than answered, as it depends on many factors. For instance, if you know another Semitic language, such as Arabic, this will give you a number of advantages as you’ll already be familiar with the basics of vocabulary and grammar.

If you speak a language with gutturals, such as French or German, this will go a long way toward helping your Hebrew pronunciation. If you’ve studied the Hebrew Bible at all, this can also be of help, though it can also cause confusion due to the divergence of modern Hebrew from Biblical Hebrew. 

And overall, how hard it is to learn Hebrew will depend on how good your ear is, how willing you are to make and learn from mistakes, and how much effort you put in.

All that being said, learning Hebrew is definitely a manageable task. It’s not the hardest language to learn by a long shot, though we’ll admit it’s not the easiest either. We’re going to take an honest look at various features that might make the Hebrew language hard for some learners, and other features that make Hebrew relatively easy. 

In this author’s opinion, while Hebrew does present some key obstacles, especially in the very early stages, it’s an extremely logical and economical language overall. For this reason, I believe anyone with the right attitude absolutely can and should learn Hebrew with the certainty that success will come if you invest in your studies.

Pensive Looking Student

At HebrewPod101.com, we’re committed to your language-learning success. To that end, we have created a vast library of fun, engaging, and enriching material, both written and in audio format, to help and guide you in your Hebrew language endeavors. So don’t stress! While learning any language comes with difficulties, you can take comfort in the knowledge that we are here to help you along the way!

Without further ado, let’s get into the thick of it and see which features of Hebrew will likely present a challenge and which are more inviting. We’re confident that once you see the breakdown, you’ll be inspired to go for it and study Hebrew in earnest.

2. The Hardest and Easiest Aspects of the Hebrew Language

Let’s start with the good news and take a look at some of the ways in which Hebrew is, in fact, one of the easier languages to pick up. You may actually be surprised by some of them!

The top five easiest aspects of learning Hebrew

1. It’s phonetic.

Man Speaking with Letters

Like Spanish and Italian—and unlike English and French—Hebrew is phonetic. This means that, with a few exceptions, the sounds that Hebrew letters make are constant and don’t change depending on their location in a word. That makes learning new vocabulary a whole lot easier, as you can pronounce new words with confidence, as long as you know the sound each Hebrew letter makes.

What’s more, there are only five voiced vowel sounds and one unvoiced vowel sound. No diphthongs (vowel combinations, like the “ou” in the English word “mouse”) to complicate matters. It’s just as simple as learning six vowels, and you’re set!

To make things even easier in terms of proper pronunciation, there are only two possible ways to stress syllables: either the last syllable or the penultimate syllable gets stressed. There are some imported words, mostly from English, where this is not the case, but the vast majority of Hebrew words do follow this rule.

2. It’s root-based.

Roots

While this may sound like something you would find printed on a bottle of vegetable juice, “roots” here refer to verb stems, or שורשים (shorashim). In true testament to its logical nature, Hebrew uses words based on three- or four-letter roots from which various words can be formed using different patterns. There are patterns for verbs of different kinds (e.g. accusative, reflexive, etc.), for nouns of different kinds (describing actions, equipment, diminutives, etc.), as well as for adjectives and adverbs. Words from the same root can be viewed as members of a single family, with a semantic connection (i.e. their individual meanings will all share a common theme).

You may be asking how this makes learning Hebrew easier. The answer is that once you’ve learned a word or two based on a given root, you’ll have more than a fair chance of at least approximating the meaning of another word from the same root. Let’s take a look at an example.

The root ח-ב-ר (kh-v-r) denotes connection or connectivity, so all words deriving from it will have a meaning along those lines. Obviously, once you get to know the conjugation patterns, you’ll also be able to infer meaning with greater accuracy. But even without this knowledge, you can be sure that any word from this root has something to do with connection. So, say you know the word חבר (khaver) means “friend,” and you suddenly see the word חיבור (khibur). You may not know what it means, but you can guess that it has something to do with connection. And you would be quite right! חיבור (khibur) means “connection”!

Here are some other words formed from the same root, along with their meanings. (The root letters have been bolded for easier identification.)

  • חבורה (khavurah)
    “gang,” “pack”
  • חברה (khevrah)
    “company,” “society”
  • חבר‘ה (khevreh)
    “group of people,” “guys,” “folks”
  • לחבר (lekhaber)
    “to connect [one thing to another]”
  • להתחבר (lehitkhaber)
    “to connect [yourself to something]”
  • מחברת (makhberet)
    “notebook” [i.e., a ream of connected pages]
  • תחביר (takhbir)
    “syntax” [i.e., how we connect words to each other]

3. It only has three tenses.

Signs: Now, Tomorrow, Yesterday

Here’s one that should give you a huge sigh of relief. Unlike many languages, English among them, which have various tenses both simple and complex (e.g. “I have been studying Hebrew for a year.”), Hebrew is content to make do with just three—simple past, simple present, and simple future—the vast majority of the time. You can still express all of the same things as in English, but you would rely on context for the nuances of time. For example:

  • אני אוכל עכשיו.
    Ani okhel akhshav.
    “I am eating now.”

* The word עכשיו (akhsav), meaning “now,” tells us that this is an ongoing action happening at present, equivalent to the present progressive tense in English.

Contrast this with the following:

  • אני אוכל במסעדה פעם בשבוע.
    Ani okhel be-mis’adah pa’am be-shavu’ah.
    “I eat at a restaurant once a week.”

* In this case, we’re talking about a general habit, which is equivalent to the simple present tense in English.

4. In simple present, you never need to use the verb “to be.”

Man Pointing to Watch

That’s right! In the simple present tense (the only present tense Hebrew has), we don’t use the verb להיות (lehiyot), or “to be.” That ought to save you some work! Here are a couple of examples:

  • אני סוזי.
    Ani Suzi.
    “I [am] Susie.”
  • אני סטודנטית.
    Ani studentit.
    “I [am] a student.”
  • האוכל טעים מאוד.
    Ha-okhel ta’im me’od.
    “This food [is] very tasty.”

5. There is only one article.

Man with Lightbulbs

This is definitely a huge advantage in comparison to other languages. Languages vary widely in their use of articles. For instance, Slavic languages are devoid of articles, while Italian has a whopping twelve types of articles. Spanish has nine, and English, French, and German have three each. But Hebrew only has one article to learn, so that’s one thing you can definitely be grateful for. Whether male or female, singular or plural, Hebrew uses only the prefix ה- (ha-) for all definite nouns.

The top five hardest aspects of learning Hebrew

You’ve seen a number of key ways in which Hebrew learning is facilitated by the language’s logic and economy. Now let’s face the music and confront the big question: Why is Hebrew so hard to learn for many students?

Here’s an overview of the unique challenges Hebrew poses. 

1. You have to learn a new alphabet, probably written in the direction opposite of what you’re used to.

Man Writing on Blackboard

This is likely the first thing that may have occurred to you as a potential challenge. And you would be right. This is an obstacle that you wouldn’t face, by and large, if learning any of the Romance or Germanic languages (apart from a few morphemes unique to each language). With Hebrew, you’ll be learning an alphabet completely different from what you know, which is also written from right to left rather than left to right.

That said, the alphabet only contains twenty-two consonants—versus English’s twenty-six—and six vowel sounds. As for the consonants, there’s a further complication in that the letters ב (bet), כ (kaf), and פ (peh), are either plosive or fricative depending on whether they use a דגש קל (dagesh kal), a diacritical point in their center. So, while ב is equivalent to /v/ in English, בּ is equivalent to /b/; כ is pronounced kh, like a Scot pronouncing the “ch” in Loch Ness, but כּ is /k/; and פ is /f/ while פּ is /p/.

Additionally, the letters כ (kaf), מ (mem), נ (nun), פ (peh), and צ (tzadi) all have distinct final forms, meaning they’re written differently when they come at the end of a word. Their final forms are:

ך, ם, ן, ף, and ץ, respectively.

Obviously, apart from learning a new alphabet, you’ll also have to get accustomed to reading and writing from right to left. It may be of interest to know why this is the case. Old as it is, and owing to logistical issues of climate and technology, proto-Hebrew was originally chiseled, carved, or engraved into rock or clay rather than written on animal skin or papyrus, unlike cuneiform. This is because, most people being right-handed, it was easier to hold the chisel in the left hand and hammer with the right. On the other hand (no pun intended), when writing with ink, writing from left to right prevented right-handed people from inadvertently smudging the ink on the scroll or page before it had dried.

2. Say goodbye to written vowels, for the most part.

Man and Women Speaking with Floating Letters and Question Mark

To complicate matters further, Hebrew is a type of language—like Arabic and Persian—called an abjad. These languages, in written form, by and large only supply the reader with consonants, omitting any diacritical marks (the dots and dashes within, above, below, or next to letters that indicate vowel sounds and other features of pronunciation). These sounds are generally inferred, though there are cases of words with the same consonants and various possible vowels, which can be tricky. Here’s an example:

  • דָּוִד
    David
    “David” (the proper name)
  • דּוֹד
    dod
    “uncle”
  • דּוּד
    dud
    “boiler”

* Note that the consonants in all three words are the same, with only the vowels changing. Because written Hebrew does not generally supply us with the vowels, these would all appear to be the same word to the uninitiated. Let’s see how this might look in the context of a sentence, first without vowels, then with them.

  • דוד דוד קנה דוד חדש.
    דּוֹד דָּוִד קנה דּוּד חדש.
    Dod David kanah dud khadash.
    “Uncle David bought a new boiler.”

Don’t let this phase you, though. If nine-million Hebrew-speakers can read without the aid of written vowels, you can get there too! There aren’t too many cases where words share the same consonants but differ in vowels alone. And those that do exist are generally quite easy to distinguish from their homographs by using context clues. When this isn’t the case, the author will usually supply the diacritical marks to allay confusion.

3. Hebrew uses a different script for printed letters and written ones.

Eraser on Page

Continuing in the orthographical vein, printed Hebrew—such as what appears in books, newsprint, most ads, subtitles, and so on—uses block letters, whereas written Hebrew uses cursive. To be fair, though, the case is much the same in English—or at least it traditionally was for those old enough to have been taught to write in cursive when penning letters and so on. In any case, cursive Hebrew is very similar to its printed counterpart. The written form of the letters is actually no more than a matter of convenience, as round letters are easier to write than square ones.

4. There are male and female forms for nouns, pronouns, verbs, AND adjectives.

Male/Female Symbols

This one is definitely a challenge, though by no means an insurmountable one. For all of its many complications, English is free of grammatical gender (though, as history buffs will know, this was not always the case). However, many languages have grammatical (versus biological) gender, meaning that even inanimate objects are gendered either masculine or feminine (and in the case of some languages, such as German, they can be neutral, as well).

Hebrew does not have a neutral form, but it does have masculine and feminine forms—both singular and plural—for nouns, pronouns, verb conjugations, and adjectives. While this may seem overwhelming, the good news is that these forms are standardized, meaning that once you learn the right suffixes and conjugation forms to make a word either masculine or feminine, and plural or singular, you’ll be able to apply the same pattern over and over to different words.

There are, of course, irregulars, but not many. And they’re only irregular in that they use the masculine form for a feminine word or vice-versa, rather than having a totally non-sequitur plural form as is often the case in English (e.g. man, men). For example, -ים (-im) is the plural suffix for masculine nouns, while -ות (-ot) or -יות (-iyot) is the plural suffix for feminine nouns.

Here are a few examples:

  • בן, בנים
    ben, banim
    “son,” “sons”
  • בת, בנות
    bat, banot
    “daughter,” “daughters”
  • חודש, חודשים
    khodesh, khodashim
    “month,” “months”
  • ארוחה, ארוחות
    arukhah, arukhot
    “meal,” “meals”
  • בקבוק, בקבוקים
    bakbuk, bakbukim
    “bottle,” “bottles”
  • שקית, שקיות
    sakit, sakiyot
    “bag,” “bags”

5. There are seven binyanim (verb conjugation patterns).

Verb List

There’s no way around this one. There are seven distinct types of verbs in Hebrew, each with its own pattern of conjugation. Compare that to, say, Spanish or Italian, where there are just three basic patterns, or English where there is only one basic pattern (which is chock-full of irregulars).

That being said, these binyanim, or conjugation patterns, are here to help you. They’re not mere morphological patterns, but have semantic meaning as well. In layman’s terms, whereas the conjugation patterns in Spanish and Italian are linked to their orthographic endings (the letters they terminate in), Hebrew binyanim tell you the character of the verb.

For instance, the binyan התפעל (hitpa’el) indicates a reflexive verb, meaning that when we learn how to use and identify this conjugation pattern, we also learn how to change an indicative (a regular statement or question) verb into a reflexive one (meaning it’s either acting on itself or on its agent). This also means that even if we’re not completely sure of a verb’s meaning, we can surmise something about the situation or relationship being described based on its binyam: Is something or someone acting on something or someone else? Is something happening passively to something or someone? Is someone or something activating or animating something or someone else to do something?

So yes, while the binyanim are tricky and take plenty of practice to master, they give you something you won’t find in many other languages: an understanding of the logical relationship between words. This will help you immensely as you progress with your studies, so look at it as a challenge that is well worth tackling! 

3. I Want to Learn Hebrew, But Don’t Know Where to Start

Woman with Blank Thought Bubble

Considering that Hebrew is a very logical, even mathematical, language, it’s best to get a good foundation when you first start your studies. While some may consider this dull, you can be certain that any seeming drudgery will pay off in dividends later on.

The following are some tips for getting started:

1. Learn the alphabet.

A good recommendation is to begin by learning the alphabet, as well as the correct pronunciation of all the consonants and vowels. Remember that Hebrew is phonetic, so once you learn these sounds, you only need to be able to reproduce them wherever they appear. There’s no variation as in English or French. With only a few exceptions, the same grapheme (written unit) will correspond to the same phoneme (sound unit) anywhere it appears.

2. Learn basic verb conjugation.

From there, you would want to focus on learning at least the more common binyanim, or verb conjugation patterns, so you can use verbs freely. You could start by focusing on just one tense and look at various verbs in this tense. Or you could focus on one binyan, tackling its forms in all three tenses. Any way you choose to go about it is fine, as long as you’re systematic.

3. Build up a basic vocabulary.

This is key to any language you’re trying to learn. Rather than focusing solely on technical issues like grammar and pronunciation, make sure you spend a lot of time building your vocabulary. Start with simple, everyday words that would be useful in common situations. Think of how children learn a language: they start with the most basic building blocks before they ever move on to forming sentences and questions. This should be your guiding principle. You have to crawl before you can walk, after all.

4. Use realia for fun and effective learning.

When undertaking any language endeavor, exposure is key. You want to flood yourself with as much authentic Hebrew language as you can. If you’re in Israel or know a group of Israelis living abroad where you are, try to hang out with them and practice any vocabulary you can. Listen attentively to their conversations and take part as much as possible. To this end, it’s best to identify patient native speakers who will be willing to help and encourage you.

No matter where you are, the Internet is a wonderful resource full of endless opportunities to expose yourself to authentic native Hebrew. Whether through music, movies, TV shows, or any other medium, Israel is a true powerhouse of media production, so you have your pick. No matter what your tastes are, you’re sure to find something to your liking in the Hebrew language. Use these media to learn new words, practice your comprehension, or work on pronunciation.

5. Start small and work your way up from there.

Work with smaller chunks at first before you try to take on, say, translating an entire song from Hebrew to your native language. Focus on individual words first, then word combinations, then sentences, then paragraphs (or stanzas), and only then entire works. Keep your goals realistic and achievable so that you’ll not only succeed in reaching them, but feel positive about your progress.

It’s worth noting that, as a country of mass immigration from countries the world over, Israel produces material specifically designed to help עולים חדשים (‘olim khadashim), or “new immigrants,” learn Hebrew. This even includes simplified newspapers that print stories on current affairs and cultural interest stories in basic Hebrew to facilitate easy reading for non-native speakers.

6. Be consistent.

Make sure you’re consistent in your studies. Dedicate time every week to your language studies, and try your best to stick to it, even if it’s only a couple of hours. Practice the words or grammar points you’ve learned until you’re sure you have dominated them. Go back and review previous lessons every now and again to refresh your memory. Most of all, don’t give up! Results are the direct product of your commitment to your goals!

4. What Makes HebrewPod101 Your Partner in Learning Hebrew with Success?

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HebrewPod101’s raison d’être is to make your language-learning experience a success, and to make sure you have fun along the way. We offer a wealth of audio, video, and written lessons designed and delivered by native Hebrew-speakers. These lessons focus on real-life topics, ranging from using public transportation to asking someone out on a date.

We also offer a multitude of learning materials, all designed with both the general difficulties of language-learning and the particular difficulties of Hebrew in mind. With HebrewPod101, you can build your vocabulary with our Free Word of the Day, practice grammar with our free mobile apps, track your progress online, and benefit from a vast array of study tools. These include flashcards, word banks, and even a voice recorder for working on your pronunciation.

With HebrewPod101, you’ll have access to lesson notes which accompany our audio and video lessons. You can also repeat any lesson at any time and check your knowledge using our quizzes. The best part of all is that, unlike in a classroom setting, you can learn at your own pace. This gives you the flexibility to work your studies in around your personal schedule and progress according to your drive, availability, and needs.

At HebrewPod101.com, we’re committed to making the challenges of learning Hebrew not only surmountable, but welcome. After all, nothing feels better than setting your sights on the summit, scaling the mountain step-by-step, and finally standing way above, looking out at the expanse below, knowing you got there thanks to your commitment and hard work. Let us be your partner in success. Sign up today to start getting new Hebrew lessons for free every single week!

Before you go, we would love to hear your thoughts on learning Hebrew. Are you ready to start after reading this article, or do you still have questions or concerns? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll do our best to help you out!

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10 Common Mistakes in Learning Hebrew & How to Avoid Them

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It’s more than expected to make mistakes when learning a new language, particularly when that language is quite different from your mother tongue. Whether in terms of correct pronunciation, the right word for the right situation, or the small differences that can make the difference between an idiomatic phrase and an idiotic one, languages are full of traps that only native speakers can navigate with ease. 

With all that in mind, it’s perfectly normal for a language-learner to make the occasional mistake in Hebrew. But we here at HebrewPod101.com are here to help you avoid the worst of them.

Today’s lesson will cover the top ten most common Hebrew mistakes. While there are some mistakes in life that one must make in order to learn from, we like to think that in language we can minimize mistakes. To that end, we’ll look at issues of pronunciation, word choice (vocabulary), grammar, and even spelling. We’ll also include some mistakes that even native speakers have been known to make, leading to further confusion among language-learners. 

Together, we’ll see what the common mistakes in learning Hebrew are, why they’re mistakes, and what we can do to avoid making them. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Pronunciation Mistakes: Gutturals
  2. Word Choice Mistakes
  3. Word Order Mistakes
  4. Grammar Mistakes
  5. The Biggest Mistake of All
  6. Let HebrewPod101 Help You Learn Correct Hebrew and Avoid Mistakes

1. Pronunciation Mistakes: Gutturals

Teacher Teaching Pronunciation

Hebrew seems to be among the more challenging languages for native speakers of a range of languages. English-speakers in particular tend to have difficulty producing some of the sounds that are natural to the Hebrew tongue. 

Hebrew, like Arabic or German, is a language that relies heavily on guttural sounds—sounds we produce using the back of the throat—and these can pose a challenge to the uninitiated. Let’s see what these sounds are and how to avoid mispronouncing them.

1 – ח (khet) and כ/ך (khaf)

Let’s start with the good news. In modern Hebrew, the vast majority of native speakers pronounce these two letters identically. (In the past, they were distinguished by how far back in the throat you would pronounce each letter’s sound.) 

To make this sound correctly, you can think about the movement you make when you’re trying to clear your throat. The sound is similar to the “ch” in Loch Ness, as pronounced by a native Scot, or to the jota in the Spanish name Juan.

Many non-native Hebrew-speakers take the easy way out on this sound and, rather than producing it correctly, “fudge” it with a soft “H” sound. This not only sounds bad, but it can lead to confusion, as sometimes this substitution can actually mean that we’re saying a totally different word. For example, לך (lakh) is the second person feminine singular form of “to/for you,” whereas לה (lah) is the third person singular form of the same pronoun. 

To avoid this mistake in Hebrew, practice these sentences. Focus on distinguishing between the different sounds (ה [heh] vs. ח/כ/ך, khet/khaf/khaf).

  • אני הולך להרים מחר.
    Ani holekh la-harim makhar.
    “I am going to the mountains tomorrow.”
  • אני אוכל מהר בהיכל. 
    Ani okhel maher ba-heykhal.
    “I am eating quickly in the auditorium.”

2 – ר (resh)

Technically, this letter is a voiced uvular fricative rather than a guttural. But for our purposes, the important thing to note is that most modern Hebrew-speakers produce the “ר” sound from the back of the throat and top of the palette, rather than by using the tip of the tongue or the teeth. 

As this sound is totally different from most English-speakers’ “R” sound, it takes a bit of practice to get it right. The sound is similar to how the “R” sound is produced by many French-speakers. The best way to get it right is to listen to how Israelis say it, and to practice the sound to get it as close as possible. 

Here are some tongue-twisters to help:

  • רק רגע, מור, אני כבר רושם את מה שאתה אומר.
    Rak rega’, Mor, ani kvar roshem et mah she-atah omer.
    “Just a moment, Mor, I’m just about to write down what you say.”
  • הרוחות רשרשו כשהשתחררתי מחיל האוויר.
    Ha-rukhot rishreshu keshe-hishtakhrarti mi-Kheil ha-Avir.
    “The winds rustled when I was discharged from the Air Force.”

2. Word Choice Mistakes

Blackboard with Word List

Another category of common Hebrew mistakes is that of incorrect word choices. Obviously, this is a huge category, as the opportunities for vocabulary mishaps lie everywhere. But here, we’ll only focus on the top three commonly confused words. 

It’s a good idea here to practice each word and to internalize how and where to use it. To this end, feel free to practice with the sample sentences provided below, and avoid these Hebrew word mistakes in the future.

אח -1 (akh) – “brother” / “male nurse” / “fireplace” / “ouch” vs. אך (akh) – “but”

In modern Hebrew pronunciation, the two words above sound identical, but note that each spelling has multiple meanings, so it’s easy to get confused here. The first one, אח (akh), most commonly means “brother,” and, in fact, the “male nurse” definition is merely a derivative of the same (just as in the past, female nurses in English were referred to as “sisters”). It’s also used to spell out the exclamation for pain, basically Hebrew’s version of “ouch.”

On the other hand, אך (akh) with a ך is a conjunction, meaning it links two words or phrases. In this case, it marks a contrast between them. 

Note the differences between the examples below:

אח (akh) “brother” / “fireplace” / “ouch”

  • זה אח שלי, ירון.
    Zeh akh sheli, Yaron.
    “This is my brother, Yaron.”
  • יש לך אח גדול, נכון?
    Yesh lekha akh gadol, nakhon?
    “You have an older brother, don’t you?”
  • האח שטיפל בי בבית החולים היה נחמד מאוד.
    Ha-akh she-tipel bi be-veyt ha-kholim hayah nekhmad me’od.
    “The male nurse who treated me at the hospital was very kind.”
  • קר בחוץ! בא נשב מול האח כדי להתחמם.
    Kar ba-khutz! Bo neshev mul ha-akh kedey lehitkhamem.
    “It’s cold outside! Let’s go sit by the fireplace to warm up.”
  • אח! דבורה בדיוק עקצה אותי בגב!
    Akh! Devorah bidiyuk aktzah oti ba-gav.
    Ouch! A bee just stung me in the back.”

אך (akh) – “but”

  • רצינו לשחות בים אך הגלים היו חזקים מדי.
    Ratzinu liskhot ba-yam akh ha-galim hayu khazakim miday.
    “We wanted to go swimming in the ocean, but the waves were too strong.”
  • אני לא אוהב ארטישוק אך אח שלי מת על זה.
    Ani lo ohev artishok akh akh sheli met al zeh.
    “I don’t like artichokes, but my brother is crazy about them.”

2- קרה (karah) – “happened” / “occurred” vs. קרא (kara) – “read” vs. קרע (kara’) – “ripped” / “tore”

Here we have three words that, in modern Hebrew pronunciation, sound identical or close to it, but which nevertheless have significantly different meanings. Note that all three are the male singular first person past tense form of a verb. Here are some examples of how their meanings differ:

קרה (karah) – “happened” / “occurred”

  • מה קרה? הכל בסדר כאן?
    Mah karah? Ha-kol be-seder kan?
    “What happened? Is everything okay here?”
  • אף פעם לא קרה לי נס, אבל אני עוד מחכה.
    Af pa’am lo karah li nes, aval ani od mekhakeh.
    “A miracle has never happened to me, but I’m still waiting.”

קרא (kara) – “read”

  • אני מקווה שהוא קרא את ההוראות לפני שהוא התחיל לעבוד.
    Ani mekavah she-hu kara et ha-hora’ot lifney she-hu hitkhil la’avod.
    “I hope he read the instructions before he started working.”
  • אבא שלי קרא לי מליון ספרים בילדות שלי.
    Abba sheli kara li milyon sefarim ba-yaldut sheli.
    “My father read me a million books in my childhood.”

3- צבע (tzeva’) – “color” / “paint” vs. צבא (tzava) – “army” / “military”

This is another pair that’s easy enough to confuse, as they sound almost the same, particularly to the untrained ear. Note that, in addition to the difference in vowels, צבע is stressed on the first syllable (TZEva’), whereas צבא is stressed on the second syllable (tzaVA). Here are some examples to help you practice:

צבע (tzeva’) – “color” / “paint”

  • איזה צבע את הכי אוהבת?
    Eyzeh tzeva’ at ha-khi ohevet?
    “What is your favorite color?”
  • הצבע הזה ממש מבליט את העיניים שלך!
    Ha-tzeva’ ha-ze mamash mavlit et ha-eynayim shelkha!
    “This color really brings out your eyes!”
  • אל תיגע בזה. הצבע עוד טרי!
    Al tiga’ be-ze. Ha-tzeva’ od tari!
    “Don’t touch that. The paint is still wet!”

צבא (tzava) – “army” / “military”

  • איפה שירתת בצבא?
    Eyfoh shirateta ba-tzava?
    “Where did you serve in the army?”
  • לישראל יש את הצבא הכי מנוסה בעולם!
    Le-Yisrael yesh et ha-tzava hakhi menuseh ba-’olam.
    “Israel has the most experienced military in the world.”
  • אחרי הצבא אני טס לארגנטינה.
    Akharey ha-tzava ani tas le-Argentina.
    “After the army, I am flying to Argentina.”

3. Word Order Mistakes

Word Magnets

Another area that commonly invites mistakes among non-native speakers is syntax, or word order. Particularly for English-speakers—though not for most Romance language-speakers—it can get tricky to remember to do the reverse of what you’re used to, which is often the case with Hebrew.

Let’s look at the two most common issues Hebrew-learners are likely to face in this regard, namely adjective-noun combinations and possessive nouns.

1- Noun-adjective combinations

It’s important to remember that in Hebrew, adjectives always come after the nouns they describe. This is the exact opposite of what we’re used to in English, so it’s best to give this language feature plenty of practice to avoid making this kind of Hebrew mistake. Here are some examples of mistakes, followed by the correct forms.

MISTAKE
הגדול הכלב הוא פיטבול.

CORRECTION
הכלב הגדול הוא פיטבול.
Ha-kelev ha-gadol hu pitbul.
The big dog is a pit bull.”

MISTAKE
זה טוב חבר שלי מאוסטרליה.

CORRECTION
זה חבר טוב שלי מאוסטרליה.
Zeh khaver tov sheli me-Ostraliyah.
“This is my good friend from Australia.”

MISTAKE
בא לך קר קפה?

CORRECTION
בא לך קפה קר?
Ba lakh kafeh kar?
“Would you like an iced coffee?”

2- Possessive adjectives

In Hebrew, the correct syntax for expressing possessives is for the noun to precede the possessive adjective. While this form does exist in English—think of “child of mine”—it’s definitely not the usual order we use, which is the other way around (think “my child”). Therefore, it’s worth practicing this one as well. Let’s see some examples.

MISTAKE
הנה, זה שלי האוטו.

CORRECTION
הנה, זה האוטו שלי.
Hineh, zeh ha-oto sheli.
“Here is my car.”

MISTAKE
השלנו מורה יודע הכל על הכל.

CORRECTION
המורה שלנו יודע הכל על הכל.
Ha-moreh shelanu yode’a ha-kol ‘al ha-kol.
Our teacher knows everything about everything.”

MISTAKE
השלך מפתחות תלויות ליד הכניסה.

CORRECTION
המפתחות שלך תלויות ליד הכניסה.
Ha-maftekhot shelakh tluyot leyad ha-knisah.
Your keys are hanging by the entrance.”

4. Grammar Mistakes

Woman with Thought Bubbles

Let’s take a look at a couple of common grammar mistakes. These mistakes are, in fact, not limited to Hebrew students alone. These common mistakes in Hebrew are even made among native Hebrew-speakers, so why not master them and show off to your Israeli friends? After all, there’s nothing more authentically Israeli than showing someone you know more than he or she does!

1- נִרְאֶה (nir’eh) – “seems” / “looks” vs. נִרְאָה (nir’ah) – “seemed” / “looked”

This one is a rather straightforward distinction between the past form and present form of the same verb. נִרְאֶה (nir’eh) is the present form of the verb להיראות (leheyra’ot), meaning “to seem” or “to look,” whereas נִרְאָה is the past tense. Israelis, as well as students, are wont to use the past form where they should use the present one. Let’s see some examples.

MISTAKE
בא לי לאכול כבר! האוכל נִרְאָה ממש טעים.

CORRECTION
בא לי לאכול כבר! האוכל נִרְאֶה ממש טעים.
Ba li le’ekhol kvar! Ha-okhel nir’eh mamash ta’im.
“I feel like eating already! The food looks truly delicious.”

MISTAKE
הסרט הזה נִרְאָה לי משעמם.

CORRECTION
הסרט הזה נִרְאֶה לי משעמם.
Ha-seret ha-zeh nir’eh li mesha’amem.
“That movie looks boring to me.”

2- Using the wrong gender adjective/number/verb/etc. for irregular nouns

Another common grammar issue arises with irregular nouns, when the plural form doesn’t correspond to the grammatical gender of the singular noun. For example, though the word חלון (khalon), meaning “window,” is masculine, it uses the feminine suffix -ות (-ot) instead of the masculine suffix -ים (-im) to form the plural. Thus, it’s easy to get confused and use a feminine adjective if you’re referring to various windows. Watch out for this! Here are some examples, along with the correct forms:

MISTAKE
מי יושב מאחורי החלונות הגבוהות?

CORRECTION
מי יושב מאחורי החלונות הגבוהים?
Mi yoshev me’akhorey ha-khalonot ha-gevohim?
“Who sits behind the high windows?”

MISTAKE
קנינו שלוש ארונות ספרים חדשות לסלון.

CORRECTION
קנינו שלושה ארונות ספרים חדשים לסלון.
Kaninu shloshah aronot sfarim khadashim la-salon.
“We bought three new bookcases for the living room.”

MISTAKE
הנשים האלה שרים יפה מאוד.

CORRECTION
הנשים האלה שרות יפה מאוד.
Ha-nashim ha-eleh sharot yafeh me’od.
“Those women sing very nicely.”

5. The Biggest Mistake of All

Man Wearing Dunce Cap

In this teacher’s opinion, the biggest mistake any of us can make when trying to speak a new language is to rely on word-for-word translation. The perils in doing so can be great as, very often, one language simply will not line up with the other one on a word-by-word basis. There’s not really any one surefire way to avoid these kinds of mistakes in Hebrew, apart from adopting an attitude of trying to really think in Hebrew. In addition, be wary of dictionaries, and make sure you’ve found the right definition of the word you wanted to translate.

These tips will help you focus less on how the language you’re learning differs from your native tongue, and allow you to absorb the way it works in a more natural, organic way. Just remember that you’ll make mistakes, and the best thing to do when that happens is laugh at yourself and learn from your errors. And, as always, there’s no substitute for practice.

Now, take a look at some of the ways word-to-word translation can fail us. Check the following sentences and see if you can find the mistake (keeping in mind that these are the results of too literal a translation from Hebrew to English). Then, check your guess using the key provided below.

  1. סליחה על האיחור. התגעגעתי לאוטובוס.
    Slikha ‘al ha-ikhur. Hitga’aga’ti la-otobus.
  1. לא אוכל לבוא לשיעור. אני מרגיש מתחת למזג האוויר.
    Lo ukhal lavo la-shi’ur. Ani margish mitakhat le-mezeg ha-avir.
  1. מאז שאני בן 13, אני מנגן בחביות.
    Me-az she-ani ben shlosh-’esreh, ani menagen be-khaviyot.
  1. אם אין לך חבר, אני מזמין אותך לצאת החוצה מתישהו.
    Im eyn lakh khaver, ani mazmin otakh latzet ha-khutzah matayshehu.
  1. אין לי רמז מה קורה כאן.
    Eyn li remez mah koreh kan.

CORRECTIONS WITH EXPLANATIONS

  1. סליחה על האיחור. פספסתי את האוטובוס.
    Slikha ‘al ha-ikhur. Fisfasti et ha-otobus.
    “Sorry I’m late. I missed the bus.”
    The word התגעגעתי (hitga’aga’ti) means “I missed” in the sense of longing for something that is absent, rather than in the sense of not making it to something on time.
  1. לא אוכל לבוא לשיעור. אני מרגיש חולה.
    Lo ukhal lavo la-shi’ur. Ani margish kholeh.
    “I won’t be able to make it to class. I am feeling sick.”
    The idiomatic phrase “under the weather” has no direct equivalent in Hebrew, so we should just say that we’re sick or unwell.
  1. מאז שאני בן 13, אני מנגן בתופים.
    Me-az she-ani ben shlosh-’esreh, ani menagen be-tupim.
    “I’ve been playing drums since I was thirteen.”
    The word we want here is תופים (tupim), meaning “drums” as in the musical instrument, rather than חביות (khaviyot), drums as in the large cylindrical recipients like those used for storing oil.
  1. אם אין לך חבר, אני מזמין אותך לצאת מתישהו.
    Im eyn lakh khaver, ani mazmin otakh latzet matayshehu.
    “If you don’t have a friend, I’d like to ask you out sometime.”
    In this case, we probably want to ask a girl out on a date, or לצאת (latzet), and not to go outdoors, or לצאת החוצה (latzet ha-khutzah). This is a good example of a too-literal translation.
  1. אין לי מושג מה קורה כאן.
    Eyn li musag mah koreh kan.
    “I have no idea what’s going on here.”
    The correct word here is מושג (musag), meaning “notion.” Using the word רמז (remez), or “clue,” sounds entirely non-idiomatic in Hebrew, even though this is the word used in the English phrase.

6. Let HebrewPod101 Help You Learn Correct Hebrew and Avoid Mistakes

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We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s lesson on the top ten Hebrew mistakes. As always, we welcome you to get in touch with us and let us know if there’s anything we covered that you’re unsure of, or anything we didn’t cover that you would like us to add information on.

Language-learning is not an easy undertaking, but with the right folks to guide you, it can not only be painless but even fun. Our team of language experts at HebrewPod101.com take pride in offering you enjoyable, engaging, and useful learning materials so you can learn Hebrew at your own pace and according to your own personal needs. 

Until next time, Shalom!

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